Australia shouldn’t have much trouble finishing the First Test at Perth’s Optus Stadium. However, they have a new concern at the top of the order with once-prolific Marnus Labuschagne experiencing a rare slump.
Labuschagne fell cheaply for the second time in the match, departing for two when he top-edged a debutant seamer. After his career average was a superb 60.82, it has now dipped to 52.15, his lowest in four years since he established himself as one of the world’s premier batters.
Labuschagne has scored just one ton and three half-centuries this year, slipping from No.1 in the world rankings to fifth. Warner also fell early in the second innings. With the Perth turf showing variable bounce, Australia will feel comfortable setting Pakistan a target anywhere north of 350.
Nathan Lyon looked set to chalk up his 500th Test wicket. It was a team effort by the bowling unit with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins offering solid support. Starc is now within striking distance of another Australian icon in Dennis Lillee, needing just 21 more scalps this summer to move into fourth on the all-time list.