Australia v Pakistan: first Test, day four – live | Australia cricket team

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Key events

61st over: Australia 208-4 (Khawaja 75, Marsh 53) Two huge strokes of luck for Khawaja, first nicking Shahzad on the half-volley to the wicket-keeper, then flaying an inside edge just past his leg stump. Strike rotated, Marsh then wears his second bouncer on the side of his head for the innings. Time for a delay and helmet number three. The interruption doesn’t faze Khawaja who leans to the legside and glides yet another boundary through gully. 100 partnership up for this pair, from 114 balls. They have allowed Pat Cummins to control the next day and a half.

60th over: Australia 198-4 (Khawaja 69, Marsh 52) Here we go! Marsh gave himself an over to get his eye in, which means he’s ready to belt Shaheen Shah Afridi for two imposing cover drive boundaries – one from over the wicket, one from around – each with majestic timing. He doesn’t have give the ball a meaty thump, even when it’s a technically excellent stroke.

59th over: Australia 188-4 (Khawaja 68, Marsh 43) Play begins after lunch with Marsh presenting a textbook forward defence, followed by a wry smile, no doubt remembering his dismissal at this stage of day two. Khurram Shahzad is the bowler and he continues his excellent match by restricting Marsh to just a single from the over.

The afternoon session is imminent. Usman Khawaja and Mitch Marsh are on their way to the middle, surely with a remit of getting themselves back in and then teeing off for quick pre-declaration runs.

Lunch on Day Four: Australia 186-4 (Lead by 402 runs)

That was a curious session of cricket, full of incident and momentum shifts, helped along by a pitch demonstrating inconsistent bounce.

Pakistan started brightly with Steve Smith out LBW early, closely followed by the counterattacking Travis Head. Usman Khawaja looked to be the next to follow but a seemingly plumb LBW was proven not out on review.

Khawaja made the most of his good fortune and dug in to bat through the session, finding runs behind square despite suffering a nasty blow to his forearm. At the other end Marsh should have been out on 23 but he was dropped horribly by Shan Masood, and has gone on to play the role of front-foot enforcer.

With the lead now in excess of 400, the only question remaining is when Pat Cummins will declare. There are 64 overs still to be bowled today, and you’d reckon the Australian skipper would want to be in the field for at least 40 of them.

We’ll find out after the interval.

58th over: Australia 186-4 (Khawaja 68, Marsh 42) Khawaja whips Afridi away for a couple before Marsh bullies a length delivery wide of mid-on for a muscular four. That stroke brings up the 400 run lead and puts an exclamation mark on a session that ends in Australia’s favour, the product of this partnership wrestling the ascendancy out of Pakistan’s grasp.

57th over: Australia 178-4 (Khawaja 65, Marsh 37) This pair have weathered the early storm and are now picking up runs comfortably. Marsh is doing so assertively, either advancing at the bowler or playing off the front foot, forcing Ashraf to question his length. He profits from this approach by guiding a not unreasonable delivery cutely through the gully for four.

56th over: Australia 172-4 (Khawaja 64, Marsh 33) With ten minutes to go until lunch Masood returns to his strikeman Afridi. But the big paceman hasn’t been paying attention and offers Khawaja room outside his off stump to angle yet another four behind square on the off side. The follow-up is a different case entirely, lifting from just short of a length and flying through to the keeper. That keeps Khawaja pinned to his crease for the next couple of deliveries, both on a length, the first beating the outside edge, the second almost sneaking an LBW on the inside.

55th over: Australia 165-4 (Khawaja 60, Marsh 31) Khawaja continues to prosper behind square, angling Ashraf wide of gully for an easy four. Marsh meanwhile reaches the 30s with a couple behind point, executed with his trademark heavy hands.

54rd over: Australia 158-4 (Khawaja 55, Marsh 29) After a very positive morning the intensity is ebbing out of this Pakistan performance as we near lunch. I’m sure this effect has been magnified by the skipper’s awful dropped catch, but with Ashraf at one end and Salman at the other, there is little for Australia’s set pair to worry about.

53rd over: Australia 157-4 (Khawaja 54, Marsh 29) Australia continue to tick along, working Ashraf around with ease. Marsh, in his tiny helmet, is looking to enforce, while Khawaja, with his bruised forearm, is happy to deflect behind square.

Unlikely it’ll make the final edit of the next Amazon doco, but Khawaja’s 50 one of the gutsiest of his career. #AUSvPAK

— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) December 17, 2023

52nd over: Australia 151-4 (Khawaja 52, Marsh 25) Lovely from Khawaja, taking a big step towards Salman’s flighted delivery outside off stump and lapping a delicate four through fine-leg. Oooh, that’s not so lovely, but a thick-edged drive beats the solitary slip and runs away for four more – this time through third – to bring up the opener’s half-century.

51st over: Australia 141-4 (Khawaja 44, Marsh 25) There’s a change in the attack with Faheem Ashraf replacing Aamer Jamal. And he should have a wicket second ball BUT SHAN MASOOD DROPS A SITTER at mid-off. It was hit firmly, at shoulder height, and it clunked in and out of the skipper’s hard hands. He had more than enough time to pouch that.

50th over: Australia 139-4 (Khawaja 44, Marsh 23) Marsh’s replacement helmet is clearly a couple of sizes too small, but it’s not a factor this over as he is safely at the non-striker’s end while Khawaja dabs away Salman’s latest offering.

49th over: Australia 139-4 (Khawaja 44, Marsh 23) Jamal loses his line and length for an over allowing Australia to keep the scoreboard moving, but just as I start to type that Mitch Marsh is looking imposing, he fails to connect with a pull and is fortunate to see the ball ricochet off the side of his helmet and down to fine-leg for four leg-byes. There’ll be another delay – in a morning already full of them – for a change of lid.

Love it when you see something at Test level that is straight out of grade/gully cricket. The Pakistani fielders were still in position for a left-hander after Travis Head got out & Mitch Marsh walked in before one of them went, “Rightie hai (it’s a right-hander)” #AusvPak

— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) December 17, 2023

48th over: Australia 131-4 (Khawaja 43, Marsh 21) Pakistan are probably missing a trick keeping their spinner on with the pitch misbehaving like this and Khawaja still reeling from his injury, but Salman remains in the attack, and is milked for three easy singles.

47th over: Australia 128-4 (Khawaja 42, Marsh 19) From the other end Jamal continues to charge in from around the wicket to Khawaja, looking for that spot that caused the ball to shoot low. He can’t locate it this over, but he still manages to cause the batter some discomfort with a shorter ball that doesn’t get up and cannons into his right elbow. There’s immediate discomfort and on come the physios. That looked nasty in real time, and on replay you see Khawaja doesn’t use an arm guard. The team doctor administers some painkillers as the TV camera zooms in on a golf ball sized lump. This is quickly becoming a treacherous pitch.

46th over: Australia 126-4 (Khawaja 41, Marsh 18) Mitch Marsh is in the mood this morning. He smacks his second six of the day, coming down the track and depositing Agha Salman into the sight-screen. Salman, on after drinks, in place of Afridi, almost exacts his revenge, beating Marsh’s outside edge later in the over.

45th over: Australia 120-4 (Khawaja 41, Marsh 12) Bosh! Jamal is only fractionally short but Marsh is onto it in a flash and pulls behind square-leg for an effortless six. That is frightening power.

Time for a drink. The first hour has gone Pakistan’s way, but the deterioration in the surface only favours Australia’s hopes for forcing victory.

44th over: Australia 112-4 (Khawaja 40, Marsh 5) A much needed boundary for Australia with Marsh guiding a defensive stroke wide of gully for four.

Team update on Marnus Labuschagne: “An x-ray taken last night did not demonstrate any visible fracture. Marnus was able to bat unhindered in the nets this morning” #AUSvPAK https://t.co/Le8i28C7ul

— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 17, 2023

43rd over: Australia 108-4 (Khawaja 40, Marsh 1) Head did his best to impose himself on the contest but never looked in. He tried to force a shot through the covers but this pitch is becoming difficult to time the ball on. Marsh was then fortunate not to glove his first ball, and Khawaja was both unlucky to get a mollygrubber then fortunate to get the DRS call after a delivery that looked plumb in real time. It’s been Pakistan’s morning so far, but it all must feed into Australia’s confidence at taking ten wickets over the next couple of days to wrap up this Test.

Review! Khawaja not out!

It’s not two in two – but it is two in four! From around the wicket Jamal hits a decent length and the ball shoots low underneath Khawaja’s defensive stroke and hits him plumb in front. Joel Wilson raises the finger. With an air of desperation Khawaja reviews – and it’s a good job he did – because ball tracking indicates he was struck fractionally outside the line of off stump!

Not out!

That was a decent appeal, but reviews indicate the ball clipped Marsh’s right forearm, a couple of inches away from his glove strap, but, crucially, not the glove itself.

Review!

Have Pakistan got two in two? Jamal is adamant Mitch Marsh has gloved down the legside.

WICKET! Head c Ul-Haq b Jamal 14 (Australia 107-4)

Shahzad makes way for Aamer Jamal and he slaps his third delivery straight to cover. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Travis Head
Travis Head of Australia leaves the field after being dismissed by Aamir Jamal of Pakistan. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

42nd over: Australia 107-3 (Khawaja 40, Head 14) Head gets away with one, crouching to duck an Afridi bouncer but leaving his bat raised like a periscope. The ball clips it on the way through and fortunately for Australia ricochets safely to square leg. Afridi has bowled well this morning but is perhaps trying a little too hard to send down the wicket-ball every delivery instead of focussing on the application of pressure.

“If a 12 year-old carried on like Smith does I would hope his coach would have a word,” emails Ross McGillivray. “But what can authorities do to Smith anyway? Fine a multi-millionaire a few grand? As as for Labuschagne’s funereal walk-offs, just as bad.”

41st over: Australia 104-3 (Khawaja 39, Head 13) Travis Head is out there doing Travis Head things, keeping the score moving, launching his bat at anything in his half of the pitch, teasing Pakistan with an under-edge to fine-leg. Shahzad holds his nerve though and after the strike is rotated keeps pushing the ball up to Khawaja, beating the bat against both attacking and defensive shots.

“I know you think Smith is a grump who always feels hard done by, but that’s not how I see it,” emails Dan Hagan. “Every time he gets out I feel he’s grumpy at himself, for his shot selection or execution, not the umpires. It’s all about the impossibly high standards he has for himself.” I can see that reading Dan – and I am sure that is a factor in his annoyance – but I am unpersuaded. To me, he has grown used to registering his displeasure without censure and seems almost unaware now of his behaviour.

40th over: Australia 101-3 (Khawaja 39, Head 10) Excellent cricket. Afridi cuts Head in half with one that jags in off the seam from back of a length. Head responds by rocking back and bludgeoning a flat-batted drive wide of mid-on for a boundary.

One of the funnier bits of weirdness in cricket is players getting mad at being given out lbw to balls that are hitting. #AusvPak

— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) December 17, 2023

39th over: Australia 96-3 (Khawaja 39, Head 5) Shahzad finally concedes runs as both left-handers work him both sides of the wicket to keep the scoreboard moving.

“Does Steve Smith push the envelope a little?” asks veteran broadcaster Tim Lane to former umpire Simon Taufel. Taufel offers no stroke, opting only to reinforce the accuracy of Joel Wilson’s decision and the application of DRS.

38th over: Australia 92-3 (Khawaja 36, Head 4) Khawaja interrupts a long run of scoreless deliveries by nudging Afridi away for a single. Channel 7’s experts are getting frustrated with Australia’s lack of intent. Fortunately for them Travis Head is now at the crease, and he thumps his second ball past the bowler with a superb straight drive. Glorious shot.

One day I’d like to see Steve Smith dismissed and walk off, nodding in acceptance. ‘Yes, a great decision. Well adjudicated, my fine man. I admire your keen judgement and savvy application of the Laws of the game. I acknowledge your finger and accept its ruling.’ #AUSvPAK

— Dan Liebke (@LiebCricket) December 17, 2023

37th over: Australia 87-3 (Khawaja 35, Head 0) Two maidens in a row from Shahzad, and the wicket of Smith to boot. Excellent start from Pakistan.

WICKET! Smith LBW Shahzad 45 (Australia 87-3)

What does DRS say? Pitching in line, hitting in line, and clipping the bails, according to Hawk Eye. Smith has to go. But, in now typical fashion, Smith shakes his head as if the world has wronged him, and trudges off at a snail’s pace, holding the bat by the blade with a look of fury in his eye. It’s high time the Australian hierarchy did something about this. Great bowling, Shahzad joining the dots into a wicket. Smith only has himself to blame.

Steve Smith
Steve Smith struggles to comprehend how he could be given out by both the on-field umpire and DRS. Photograph: Colin Murty/AFP/Getty Images

REVIEW! Smith LBW Shahzad

Shahzad continues to probe at Smith, almost inducing a play-on, then finding some seam movement back into the right-hander, smacking into the front pad and getting Joel Wilson to raise his finger! Smith reviews…

36th over: Australia 87-2 (Khawaja 35, Smith 45) Salman’s opening over proves to be just a mechanism to allow Shaheen Shah Afridi to change ends. The big left-armer comes on and hits a reasonable line and length, if a touch short and wide to Khawaja. The batter is happy to see off a maiden.

35th over: Australia 87-2 (Khawaja 35, Smith 45) That’s more like it, from the impressive Khurram Shahzad. His first delivery is on a perfect line and length to Smith with some springy seam movement sending the ball wobbling past the outside edge of a failed cover drive. The rest of the over is on the money, forcing Smith to defend from the crease or leave.

Quartet watch: Cummins/Hazlewood/Lyon/Starc now up to 381 combined wickets, 35 short of the top combo, with 90 potential wickets remaining this summer…

— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) December 17, 2023

34th over: Australia 87-2 (Khawaja 35, Smith 45) Pakistan have come out all guns blazing! Kidding. For reasons best known to Shan Masood, Agha Salman is invited to lob an over of gentle throw-downs to start the day. Both batters milk easy runs. This already has the making of a sleepy Sunday of going through the motions.

Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja walk slowly from the boundary fence to the middle of Optus Stadium. Pakistan’s fielders trudge even slower in the same direction following a performative huddle. Day four will be under way in no time.

… fine, but not perfect.

Looks as though the list of things to discuss today has been reduced by one. Marnus Labuschagne seems fine.

Missed what happened yesterday? Check out the match report from the end of day three.

Preamble

Hello everybody and welcome back for day four of the first Test in Perth. Australia will resume on 84/2, giving them a commanding 300-run lead over Pakistan with six sessions of play remaining.

With the weather set fair (it is Perth, after all) the outlook is straightforward: Australia will bat briskly for a session, consider their options at lunch, and declare during the afternoon after all the reasonably achievable individual milestones have been ticked off; this will set Pakistan the task of surviving around a day-and-a-half on a wearing pitch with ever-widening cracks.

Along the way there will be oodles of declaration speculation, scrutiny over Marnus Labuschagne’s hurt finger and what that means for the Boxing Day Test, Nathan Lyon will reach the 500-wicket career milestone, and Scott Boland’s name will drift like a spectre as we cast ahead to the MCG.

I’ll be around for the opening half of the day before Geoff Lemon takes the reins. While I’m on, feel free to drop me an email: jonathan.howcroft.casual@theguardian.com .





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