Australia's quicks blow Pakistan away

Pakistan 8 for 97 (Sarfraz 31*, Hazlewood 3-19, Starc 3-45, Wood 2-7) trail Australia 429 (Smith 130, Handscomb 105, Renshaw 71, Wahab 4-89, Amir 4-97) by 332 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Among Josh Hazlewood’s three wickets was a first-ball duck for Younis Khan © AFP

Australia and Pakistan on night two in Brisbane resembled nothing so much as Australia and most of the rest of the world during the great recession of 2008. Having planned and saved soundly in the good times on a slower day one pitch, the hosts were able to absorb the shock of tougher batting conditions, helped by a Peter Handscomb stimulus package.

Pakistan had no such safety net, and when the crash came under the Gabba lights against the wobbling pink ball, they went swiftly into free fall. The visiting batsmen jutted their bats out at the bad real estate offered by Australia’s canny bowlers like so many reckless traders, and were left observing the ruins of their first innings like former employees of Lehman Brothers.

The main reason for the day’s violent swerve from 1 for 43 to 8 for 67 was the quickening of the surface, which clearly did not need a single millimetre more grass than the two the curator Kevin Mitchell Jnr. left on it. One wonders how swiftly the match might have moved with the 6mm preferred by Adelaide’s groundsman Damian Hough.

Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird had far too much speed, accuracy and movement for Pakistan’s batsmen, cowed as they already had been on slower, seamier pitches in New Zealand. Of the tourists only Sami Aslam gave any indication of permanence, and even that was of the painful, white-knuckle kind as he wore two blows on the helmet before glancing Bird into Matthew Wade’s gloves.

Full report to follow

Play 01:07

Farrell: Australia’s tail frustrates Pakistan

Brisbane’s pitch quickened up and so did Pakistan’s pace attack as Australia stumbled on the second afternoon of the day-night Test match, losing their last seven wickets for 106, before Mitchell Starc fired out Azhar Ali.

Despite a fine century from Peter Handscomb in only his second Test, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz both bowled quality spells to the Australian middle order, finding pace, bounce and just enough movement to find a series of outside edges. Amir’s figures were his best since returning to the Pakistan side.

They were unable to dislodge Handscomb, who showed patience beyond his years and deep trust in his way of batting before leaping from 91 to 101 with a powerful six off Yasir Shah then a delectable square drive off Amir. He fell shortly after tea, before Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon bolstered Australia’s total with a pesky stand of 49.

While Handscomb pushed on stoically towards his first hundred, no one at the other end was able to stick around in similar fashion. The captain Steven Smith went on to 130 before throwing his bat at a Wahab delivery going across him, and Nic Maddinson continued an unconvincing start to his Test career by hanging his bat out for a thin edge behind.

Pakistan’s resurgence was all the more notable for the fact the visitors turfed more chances. Smith skied Yasir and was dropped by Amir running back towards long-off, before Maddinson bunted Yasir to short leg where Azahr Ali was unable to cling on. Yasir deserved better than seemingly expensive figures, even if he pursued a leg stump line too often to the left-hand batsmen.

Play 01:11

Kimber: Handscomb picked for runs, not technique

Smith and Handscomb had begun intent on a long occupation, but the captain appeared to decide it was time to go on the attack after the fourth wicket stand went beyond 170 runs. First he tried to deposit Yasir into the Gabba stands only for Amir to drop the swirling chance, then flayed at Wahab to end an equal parts fine and fortunate innings.

Maddinson was not confronted by floodlights and a swinging ball, but the extra pace off the pitch did appear to trouble him against both spin and pace before he was unable to withdraw his bat from Wahab in time. Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc both offered up catches to the slips off the persistent Amir before Handscomb was able to reach three figures, drawing the biggest cheer of the day from another healthy crowd.

Josh Hazlewood fell to Amir soon after the resumption, and next over Handscomb dragged Wahab onto his stumps. When Lyon was dismissed after a last wicket flurry, the Australians had been cut down barely past 400, leaving Pakistan’s openers with the advantage of starting in daylight.

Starc gained some early swing that was dealt with well enough by Sami Aslam and Azhar, but a ball angled across with bounce found the edge of Azhar’s bat. Australia will hope for more movement, not to mention spin for Lyon, when play resumes under lights.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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