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Saturday, June 15, 2024  
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Australia thrash Pakistan in first Test as Lyon achieves milestone

Hosts had set visitors a mammoth 450-run target
Photo via X/@TheRealPCB
Photo via X/@TheRealPCB

Australia beat Pakistan by 360 runs in the first Test which was played at the Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday, as the home side had a commanding Test victory against the South Asian side.

The visitors stuttered to chase 450 runs target. The hosts had declared their innings at 271 after Shaheen Shah Afridi got Usman Khawaja out for 90.

In response, Pakistan was all out for 89 and the game was finished on Day 4.

It was a memorable match for spinner Nathan Lyon as he got his 500th wicket after getting the scalp of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.

Lyon got his man when Ashraf was out lbw on review. He was initially declared not out. The Australians were cock-a-hoop when the ‘three reds’ were shown on the big screen. Lyon waved the ball to the crowd and his family sitting in the stands.

Chasing 450 for victory, the visitors succumbed meekly with Lyon taking 2-14. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood both grabbed three wickets each.

“Great start to the summer, everything fell into place. We’ve played a lot of cricket, so the build-up was very chilled and relaxed,” said Australia captain Pat Cummins. “No hiccups this week, it’s all gone to plan.

“500 Test wickets around the world is huge,” he added of Lyon. “Couldn’t be happier for him.”

After being left stranded on 499 after Pakistan’s first innings, Lyon finally reached the milestone when he trapped Faheem Ashraf lbw but there was an agonising wait as it went to review.

He then bowled Aamer Jamal in the same over, joining an elite club of just seven others, including fellow spinners Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka and Australia’s Shane Warne.

“Great feeling to take 500 wickets,” said Lyon. “I have not taken anything for granted, especially playing for Australia, and appreciate every moment of my career.”

Facing a daunting chase, they got off to a horror start with Abdullah Shafique out for two in the first over, nicking an unplayable Starc ball to Alex Carey behind the stumps.

Captain Shan Masood, in his first Test in charge, did not last much longer, edging to Carey off Hazlewood to leave his team in dire straits at 17-2.

Starc also accounted for Imam-ul-Haq before Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel put up some resistance.

But that crumbled when Azam got an edge to Cummins on 14, with Carey again collecting.

When they returned from tea, Sarfaraz Ahmed lasted just six balls before he was caught at gully off Starc, and Agha Salman was run out.

Lyon then worked his magic before Hazlewood cleaned up.

“We could have batted a bit quicker, missed on 60-70 runs,” said Masood.

“Bowling-wise, I thought we did a lot of good things. Not as disciplined as we wanted to be, that’s the lesson from the Australian attack.”

Australia resume play

Australia had resumed at 84-2 on day four of the opening Test at Perth Stadium and by lunch had battled to 186-4 ahead of a likely declaration later in the day.

Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh made a 100-run partnership at the end of 61 over.

Opener Khawaja began on 34 and Steve Smith 43 after the hosts bowled out Pakistan for 271 on the cusp of tea Saturday, well short of Australia’s first innings total of 487.

But on a deteriorating pitch with cracks appearing, it was hard going early on Sunday, with Pakistan’s pace bowlers beating the bat and causing problems.

Impressive debutant Khurram Shahzad got a breakthrough in the fourth over of the day, trapping Smith lbw for 45 with a ball that nipped back.

Smith reviewed but replays showed it clipping the top of the bails with the Australian veteran shaking his head and muttering to himself as he trudged off.

Enter the aggressive Travis Head, who stroked a straight drive boundary off the second ball he faced to signal his intent.

But he lived dangerously and a misjudged drive off Aamer Jamal went straight to Imam-ul-Haq at cover, out for 14.

Both Marsh and Khawaja survived reviews in the same eventful Jamal over as Pakistan ratcheted up the pressure.

Marsh hit sixes off Jamal then spinner Agha Salman to keep the scoreboard moving, before a huge escape on 23 when skipper Shan Masood dropped a sitter at mid-off.

At the other end, Khawaja kept grinding away to make a 25th Test half-century off 151 balls before accelerating once he reached the mark.

More to follow…

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