Renshaw and Warner seize the day

Australia 3 for 365 (Renshaw 167*, Warner 113, Handscomb 40*) v Pakistan
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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David Warner enshrined himself among the greats of the game’s past before Matt Renshaw secured his Australian future. On a day of contrasting openers and innings at the SCG, Warner blasted his way to the first century before lunch in Tests in Australia, then 20-year-old Renshaw dug in to become Australia’s seventh-youngest centurion.

If Warner’s innings was the favourite of a festive New Year’s crowd, Renshaw will have delighted Australia’s selectors, coaches and players with a display of the sort of calm assurance so vital to Test match success. Renshaw styled much of his game on England’s Alastair Cook: working the ball repeatedly off his hip then driving and cutting occasionally he played very much the spit of an innings the older man made against Australia on this ground six years ago.

Having played a major role in Australia’s win in Melbourne by scoring a rapid century, Warner doubled down with another intimidatory batting effort against Pakistani bowling that mixed the presentable with the ordinary on a blameless SCG pitch. Warner joined Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney, Sir Donald Bradman and Majid Khan as the only other men to score a century in the very first session of a Test. Majid was the most recent batsman to get there, making his century against New Zealand in Karachi in 1976-77.

While Warner was unable to go on for long after the interval, Renshaw wedged himself into the wicket, and was composed through the departures of Usman Khawaja and the captain Steven Smith before Pete Handscomb, another bright young thing, settled in. With the debutant Hilton Cartwright and an out of touch Matthew Wade below them, this pair played with some care to reach stumps.

After Smith won the toss and announced two changes to the Melbourne team, Steve O’Keefe and Cartwright, Warner rocketed away with a volley of boundaries in the first two overs of the match, the second of which was bowled by one of Pakistan’s inclusions, Imran Khan. From there it seemed only a matter of Warner keeping his wicket intact and getting enough strike, two tasks he performed without much trouble as barely a ball beat the bat.

There were runs either side of the pitch for Warner; a lack of straight-driven boundaries reflecting both the pugilism of his method and also the shortish lengths favoured by Pakistan’s bowlers. Pull shots and punches through the covers were most prevalent, all played with a level of hustling intent that suggested Warner always knew the hundred before lunch was on.

David Warner celebrated his 18th Test century off only 78 balls © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

In the end Warner was able to go from 95 to 100 with a two and a three from the bowling of Wahab Riaz, the first a pull shot and the second a punch behind square on the off side that should only have been worth two but became the pivotal third via a misfield. Warner’s celebration was typically ebullient; he had already made history in a match just two hours old.

It was to be Wahab who sent Warner back to the dressing room, via an SCG standing ovation, when he coaxed an indeterminate edge when trying to run the ball down through the gully region. Khawaja’s edge arrived a few overs later from a more aggressive attempt to score, and it was Renshaw who got the balance right.

Smith, having been so dominant in Melbourne, surprised in edging an attempted cut at Yasir Shah and falling to an excellent catch by Sarfraz Ahmed, the prelude to a nervy period in the 90s for Renshaw after tea. On 91 his visor wore the brunt of a Mohammad Amir bouncer, and a check-up from the team doctor Peter Brukner was required before Renshaw continued.

In the end a hurried single was enough to take him to the milestone, triggering an outpouring of joy that reminded all present of the difficult spells he has already negotiated whether against Vernon Philander in Adelaide, Amir at the Gabba or a fiery Wahab here. Handscomb was meanwhile reprieved when Sarfraz failed to go with a Yasir legbreak that could have resulted in a stumping.

More runs flowed from Renshaw’s bat, his stroke range expanding in direct correlation to the amount of time he spent in the middle. There is plenty of power in his tall frame, but the aversion he shows in the formative stages of his innings will serve him well in what now seem likely to be many years of Test batting to come.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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