Australia survive Pakistan’s pace attack and spicy pitch to build 400-run lead in 1st test

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Australia battled through Pakistan’s best bowling of the match and a treacherous Perth pitch before Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh counterattacked to lift the hosts to 186-4 at lunch, and a commanding lead of 402 runs, on the fourth day of the series opening cricket test.

Resuming Sunday at 84-2, Australia lost Steven Smith and Travis Head in the first hour of the day as Pakistan’s bowlers took advantage of the variable bounce and movement offered by the deterioriating Perth pitch to frequently trouble Australia’s batters.

After Smith and Marnus Labuschagne took painful blows on Day 3, Khawaja and Marsh also received nasty hits as the Aussies did their best to keep their wickets, and bodies, intact in a spicy morning session.

Nearing the break, Khawaja (68 not out) reached his half century off 151 balls and Marsh lifted the hosts scoring rate with an unbeaten 42 off 50 balls — including three boundaries and two sixes — as the lead passed 400 runs.

Debutant fast bowler Khurram Shahzad, who took both the Australian wickets to fall on Saturday, continued his fine start to test cricket by getting Smith (45) leg before wicket to reduce Australia to 87-3. It was the second time in the match Shahzad (3-26) had captured Australia’s premier batter.

Fellow debutant Aamer Jamal, who took 6-111 in Australia’s first innings of 487, got Head for the second time as Australia’s one-day international World Cup star holed out to Imam-ul-Haq at mid-off for 14.

Later in the same over Jamal (1-28) had Khawaja given lbw, but the opener survived as his DRS review showed the ball hit his pad just outside the line of off-stump.

On Saturday’s third day, Smith and Khawaja helped Australia overcome an early stutter at 5-2 to reach a watchful 84-2 at stumps for an overall lead of 300 runs after Pakistan had collapsed to 271 all out at the stroke of tea to concede a 216-run lead.

Australia fought through tough bowling from Pakistan and a difficult pitch in Perth to reach 186-4 at lunch on the fourth day of the opening cricket test. Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh provided a counterattack, helping Australia to a commanding lead of 402 runs. Pakistan’s bowlers took advantage of the variable bounce and movement on the deteriorating pitch, causing trouble for Australia’s batsmen. Khawaja and Marsh endured painful hits but managed to keep their wickets intact. Khawaja reached his half-century while Marsh increased the scoring rate with an unbeaten 42. Debutant bowler Khurram Shahzad took the wicket of Steven Smith, while Aamer Jamal dismissed Travis Head. However, Khawaja survived a lbw decision after a successful DRS review. On the previous day, Smith and Khawaja had helped Australia recover from an early setback to reach a lead of 300 runs.

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