In a dramatic turn of events on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test, Australian opener David Warner was granted a lifeline after a crucial dropped catch at first slip by Abdullah Shafique. However, the respite was short-lived as Warner fell on the stroke of lunch, providing a much-needed boost for Pakistan’s revamped bowling attack.
Despite the challenging pitch conditions, Warner and fellow opener Usman Khawaja had managed to navigate their way through, placing Australia in a favorable position. The first session saw Pakistan’s bowlers struggling to make early breakthroughs with the new ball, emphasizing the significance of Warner’s wicket.
Abdullah Shafique’s dropped catch in the third over off spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi allowed Warner to survive, but the Australian batsman was eventually caught at slip by spinning all-rounder Agha Salman in the final over before lunch.
Pakistan’s hopes for a comeback were pinned on early wickets, considering the overwhelming defeat in the first Test. Captain Shan Masood’s decision to bowl on a grass-covered pitch with overcast conditions reflected the team’s strategy to capitalize on potential movement.
The Pakistan bowling attack, featuring Hasan Ali and left-armer Mir Hamza in three changes, struggled to consistently hit the right areas and find pace. Warner, rattled initially, settled into his innings after the drinks break, while Khawaja batted fluently despite a returning Hasan’s efforts.
The MCG, known for fickle weather, experienced an uninterrupted first session, but forecasts indicate showers and potential thunderstorms later in the day. Despite the gloomy weather, a crowd of 70,000 is anticipated for the marquee Boxing Day Test, adding further excitement to the Australian cricket summer.
Pakistan’s captain, Shan Masood, expressed the team’s intent to seize opportunities with the ball, while Australian captain Pat Cummins acknowledged the pitch’s hardness and opted to bat after winning the toss.
The squads for the match include notable changes, with Mohammad Rizwan returning as wicketkeeper for Pakistan, and Australia remaining unchanged with a full-strength lineup.