Brisbane: Australia captain Tim Paine says his team have room to improve after crushing Pakistan in their opening Test, hailing the quality of his batsmen and bowlers. The home side comfortably won the first of their two Tests by an innings and five runs inside four days at the Gabba on Sunday, set up by dismissing Pakistan for 240 in the first innings then smacking 580 in reply.
They now head to Adelaide for a day-night Test starting Friday, with Australia having ominously won all five pink-ball matches they have played. Australia’s top order struggled during the recent Ashes series, but they clicked in Brisbane, raising hopes a corner has been turned.
David Warner hit 154, opening partner Joe Burns 97 and number three Marnus Labuschagne 185. The only real failure was Steve Smith (four), who was their saviour in England. Asked if Australia had finally found its long-term top three, Paine replied: “The early signs would suggest yes. One innings doesn’t make a summer but we are really happy with the positive signs that we saw.”
Labuschagne, in particular, was a revelation, building on promising form during the Ashes to hit his maiden Test century and, according to Paine, ‘finally arrive on the big stage’. “He gives our team energy out in the field and in the dressing room. It looks like he is getting better and better which is a great thing for Australia,” said the captain.
Australia’s formidable pace attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc also fired, with selectors having the added option in Adelaide of James Pattinson, who was banned for Brisbane over player abuse. Paine suggested he favoured picking and sticking for the second Test, but that would be determined by the Adelaide Oval wicket. “I thought the bowlers were terrific, to take 20 wickets inside four days,” he said. “But the squad named was for the first two Tests so we will get to Adelaide and look at the conditions. We have the pink ball as well, so that
will come into consideration.”
Pakistan have now lost 13 consecutive Tests in Australia and have plenty to ponder, but at least their second-innings 335 provided some positives with a breezy Babar Azam century and 95 to wicketkeeper Muhammad Rizwan. Skipper Azhar Ali insisted ‘almost all of our guys are in good nick’, while ruing their failure to make more runs in the first innings. ‘Babar and Rizwan showed the way and also Shan (Masood) played really well,” he said. “Australians always come hard at you but the wicket was really good and we missed the opportunity in the first innings.”