Australia on top despite Shafiq’s resistance

Australia dismissed Pakistan for 240 to bring a close to the opening day of the first Test

Australia on top despite Shafiq’s resistance PHOTO COURTESY: Cricket Australia

Australia’s fast-bowler Mitchell Starc took four for 52 as a middle-session blitz and some late new-ball fireworks helped Australia dismiss Pakistan for 240 to bring a close to the opening day of the first Test in Brisbane on Thursday.

Fast-bowler Pat Cummins took three wickets (3/60) and the third Australian quick, Josh Hazlewood, grabbed two as the hosts took the honours on a sunny day at the Gabba.

Pakistan's middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq offered most resistance to the barrage from the Australian pace battalion with a fine knock of 76 before he was ousted by a Cummins delivery that removed his middle stump.

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Left-armer Starc took the second new ball in the final hour of the day and made good use of it, dismissing tailenders Yasir Shah (26) and Shaheen Shah (0) in successive deliveries to put himself on a hat-trick.

Tailender Naseem Shah, the 16-year-old fast-bowler who is playing his first test, faced the next delivery and, without appearing to know much about it, managed to keep the ball from hitting his stumps with a thick inside edge.

The teenager was the final batsman to fall, departing for seven when he spooned the ball into the air for Starc to dismiss him caught and bowled.

It was a day that ebbed and flowed with long periods of Pakistani resistance punctuated by bursts of wickets. After losing the toss, Australia had been frustrated by an opening stand of 75 from batsmen Azhar Ali (39) and Shan Masood (27) in a partnership that lasted throughout the first session and into the second.

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The Australian quicks finally found their length, however, and removed both in three deliveries before swiftly adding the wickets of batsmen Haris Sohail and Babar Azam for one run apiece.

That spell of four wickets at the cost of three runs had the tourists rocking and a rout looked in order when middle-order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed departed for seven to leave Pakistan on 95-5.

Asad, though, clearly enjoys playing Down Under and backed up centuries in Pakistan's two tour matches at a ground where he scored 137 when the tourists came close to chasing down an unlikely victory in 2016.

Reflecting the discipline that the openers had earlier employed, he brought up his 24th test half century in a partnership of 84 with Yasir before Australia took the new ball and seized the day.