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1st Test, Perth, December 14 - 17, 2023, Pakistan tour of Australia
487 & 233/5d
(T:450) 271 & 89

Australia won by 360 runs

Player Of The Match
90, 1/34 & 63*

Nathan Lyon joins 500 Test-wicket club as Australia crush Pakistan in Perth

Massive 360-run win set up by Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh's partnership, before visitors folded for 89

No. 500 for Nathan Lyon  •  Getty Images and Cricket Australia

No. 500 for Nathan Lyon  •  Getty Images and Cricket Australia

Australia 487 (Warner 164, Marsh 90, Jamal 6-111) and 233 for 5 dec (Khawaja 90, Marsh 63*, Shahzad 3-45) beat Pakistan 271 (Imam 62, Lyon 3-66, Cummins 2-35) and 89 (Shakeel 24, Hazlewood 3-13, Starc 3-31) by 360 runs
Offspinner Nathan Lyon claimed his 500th Test wicket as Australia's formidable attack crushed hapless a Pakistan on a difficult Optus Stadium surface to win the first Test inside four days.
In the middle of the final session, with victory imminent for Australia, Lyon became the eighth bowler to reach the milestone when he dismissed Faheem Ashraf lbw on review to spark jubilant scenes of celebration among the Australia players and the sparse crowd of 9000 fans. He joined Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as the only Australians to the landmark.
Lyon then clean bowled Aamer Jamal later in the over to cap a successful return, after taking five wickets for the match in his comeback from a calf injury that had prematurely ended his Ashes series. Pakistan, who lasted only 30.2 overs in their second innings, crumbled on a wicket that was spicy throughout and deteriorated as the match wore on, with rearing deliveries contrasted by balls that crept low. Set 450 to win after Australia declared 30 minutes into the second session, Pakistan succumbed to brilliant bowling from quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
They already faced a daunting task to avoid a 15th straight Test defeat in Australia, and it went almost as expected, as Pakistan were blown away in the opening seven overs to slump to 17 for 3. Opener Abdullah Shafique was caught behind in the first over when he poked at a menacing Starc delivery outside off. It was Starc's 200th Test wicket at home, as he bowled with far more consistency than in Pakistan's first innings.
Captain Shan Masood was dismissed for just 2 when he was caught behind off Hazlewood after driving loosely. It was a tough captaincy debut for Masood, even as he had made a breezy 30 in Pakistan's first innings; but his team were unable to play a proactive brand of cricket he had promised ahead of the series.
Pakistan's hopes rested on talisman Babar Azam, who defied Australia's attack for almost ten overs. He worked hard against Cummins, as the pair renewed their battle after a riveting contest on day two. But Babar was helpless against a cracking Cummins delivery that seamed away, as he was caught behind on 14 after having made 21 in Pakistan's first innings.
The only interest left was whether Pakistan could take the match into a fifth day, and if Lyon would reach his milestone. Pakistan's hopes nosedived when Sarfaraz Ahmed was caught in the slips off Starc before their plight was underscored with a disastrous run-out of Salman Ali Afgha after a mix-up with Saud Shakeel. It brought back ghosts of the past for Pakistan, who were outclassed throughout the Test.
They had entered with optimism and made several bold selection calls, including overlooking veteran quick Hasan Ali and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan. But debutant seamers Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal impressed by combining for 12 of Pakistan's 15 wickets in the match. They bowled a hostile length late on day four and early on day five to rough up several Australia batters.
They did the bulk of the heavy lifting, with spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi struggling throughout the match, having been elevated as vice-captain. He finished with match figures of 2 for 172 from 45.2 overs, and bowled mostly in the early 130kph range. Pakistan's attack will rue their lifeless display early in the Test and had no answers for opener David Warner, who dominated the first day with a belligerent century after Cummins won the toss and elected to bat.
Allrounder Mitchell Marsh also had a superb first Test on his home ground with two half-centuries and the wicket of Babar in Pakistan's first innings. Opener Usman Khawaja made a gutsy 90 in Australia's second innings, having overcome torrid bowling late on day three and early on day four. It was a dogged performance from Khawaja, having come into the match under the spotlight after not being allowed to wear shoes which expressed humanitarian views.
Australia's victory within four days came in the backdrop of a rebranded Perth Test match, with more than 59,000 fans attending - considerably more than last year's corresponding Test against West Indies which went the distance. The surface was particularly spicier than last year's game in a throwback to famous WACA Tests.
For Pakistan, however, they barely mustered a better effort than their 72 in the previous Test match they had played in Perth back in 2004, as their horror run in Australia stretching more than two decades continued.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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