Starc strikes after Australia score 429

Dinner Pakistan 1 for 20 (Azam 9*, Aslam 3*, Starc 1-6) trail Australia 429 (Smith 130, Handscomb 105, Renshaw 71, Wahab 4-89, Amir 4-97) by 409 runs
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Kimber: Handscomb picked for runs, not technique

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.

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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