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Pakistan Vs Australia, 1st Test: Marnus Labuschagne's Gritty Knock Takes Aussies To 187-3 On Rain-Interrupted Boxing Day

Pakistan squandered the opportunity to put Australia on the backfoot early, allowing openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja to share a 90-run partnership on the first day of the second Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Australia's Marnus Labuschagne bats against Pakistan during the second test match in Melbourne.
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Marnus Labuschagne notched a gritty score of 44 not out to guide Australia through a rain-interrupted first day of play in the second Test against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday. (Scorecard | Dec 26 Blog | Cricket News)

Invited to bat first by Pakistan captain Shan Masood, who won the toss in overcast conditions, Australia reached 187-3 at stumps.

Pakistan squandered a golden opportunity to put Australia on the back foot early, allowing openers David Warner (38 off 83 balls) and Usman Khawaja (42 off 101) to share a 90-run partnership on a pitch offering sideways movement for the seamers. 

Warner, in his penultimate test, played a loose shot outside off stump on 38 in the final over before lunch and was caught at slip off the bowling of spinner Agha Salman.

The 37-year-old Warner, who scored 164 in the first test in Perth, was lucky to reach double figures Tuesday. Warner offered a regulation chance on 2 to first slip off the bowling of Shaheen Shah Afridi in the third over, but it was put down by Abdullah Shafique.

Unbeaten on 36 at lunch, Khawaja added six runs to his total before he guided a delivery from Hasan Ali to second slip at 108-2. Khawaja is the leading test run-scorer in 2023 with 1,210 runs at an average of 55.00.

Rain interrupted play 37 minutes before the scheduled tea break, with Australia on 114-2 off 42.4 overs.

Play resumed almost three hours later, rewarding those fans among the first-day crowd of 62,167 at the MCG who had waited patiently for the rain to clear.

Steve Smith was given out LBW on 19 to the bowling of Afridi, but the former skipper successfully reviewed the decision as replays showed the ball was going over the stumps.

On 26, Smith was given not out following a caught-behind appeal from Aamir Jamal, but Pakistan successfully reviewed the decision as replays showed a faint edge.

Smith struck only two boundaries in his 75-ball knock, sharing a patient 46-run partnership with Labuschagne.

Travis Head was unbeaten on nine at stumps to join Labuschagne in the crease when play resumes Wednesday. 

Australia named an unchanged side Tuesday and Pakistan made three changes. Wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed was replaced by Mohammad Rizwan and fast bowler Khurram Shahzad was ruled out due to a rib injury.

Medium-pacer Faheem Ashraf was dropped as Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza returned to the side. 

The third test in the three-match series is scheduled to begin Jan. 3 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Pakistan won its last test in Australia nearly 30 years ago.

Australia won the first test in Perth last week by 360 runs.

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