Australia v Pakistan – Gabba, Day 1: Smith superb, Pakistan, er, not

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It’s a very odd feeling watching Test cricket in the dark. While the game itself is unchanged, there is something inherently odd and a tad unlikable about day/nightTests.

Sure it pulls the crowds, sure it makes Test cricket a little more attractive and sure, I spent the day with either the telly on Channel Nine or ABC on the radio.

But it doesn’t feel natural. Test cricket is free-flowing, relaxed and easy on the eye. Day/night Tests add an artificial, plastic element to the whole program and it just doesn’t feel right. I’d consider myself a cricket purist; I’d take a Test match over the junk-food cricket that is Twenty20. Although day/night cricket may be the future of the proper game (and with a record non-Ashes crowd of over 26 000 yesterday, along with a pool at deep backward square, it looks like it’s here to stay), it’ll take a fair while to get used to the pink ball and the washed-out colour of the floodlights.

Now my gripe is over, to the game.

A small media storm had surrounded the possibility that Nathan Lyon could be dropped for Chadd Sayers, thus giving Australia a four-pronged pace attack with Steve Smith the part-time spin alternative. A particular fan of Matthew Wade’s purring off “Nice, Gary” every thirty seconds, Steve Smith quashed any change, after winning the toss and electing to bat.

The Pakistani team was represented by eleven magnificent heads of hair and a couple of pensioners in Younis Khan and Misbah-Ul-Haq, aged 39 and 42 respectively. When the former played his first Test, Australian opener Matt Renshaw was just four years old.

And speaking of Renshaw, the baby-faced Queenslander started his second match with aplomb. Some of his actual Test match temperament with willow in hand must’ve rubbed off on Davey Warner as well, as the pair grafted their way toward a solid opening partnership. Renshaw in particular looked very solid at the crease, as Pakistan lost confidence in their opening bowlers and introduce leggie Yasir Shah in only the tenth over.

It was with a surprise that Warner departed, LBW to paceman Mohammad Amir. Amir had been to Australia before for the 2009-10 summer – in the time between then and now, he’d spent a few years in jail thanks to a spot of match-fixing back in 2010. Usman Khawaja was next to the crease and departed in similar surprising fashion as he belted Shah directly to midwicket for four. Smith and Renshaw battled until tea, with the match delicately poised.

But anything delicate was about to vanish as Australia proceeded to take Pakistan apart, losing just one more wicket for the twilight and night sessions. Renshaw batted very well for 71, where he was caught behind off the bowling of Wahab Riaz. The Australians were aided somewhat by the Pakistani bowling attack, which struggled to find consistency with an ageing ball. Peter Handscomb and Steve Smith’s partnership made for interesting watching – the technique of either batsman should come with a “don’t try this at home” label. I do wonder how many times Handscomb has trodden on his stumps as he takes guard astoundingly deep in his crease.

Mohammed Amir was back in the spotlight again after taking a divot out of the Gabba turf in the outfield. What appeared to be a serious injury, complete with writhing, a motorised stretcher and an ample break of play, saw Amir helped off the ground. He returned to the field for another spell in the final session of play.

But for Smith it was a case of another day, another ton as he bludgeoned the bowling attack for his second century of the summer. An early dropped catch off Smith cost Pakistan dearly, as did an apparent nick on 98. While viewers would’ve enjoyed a brief spell of resistance during the second new ball’s early overs and the later part of the first session where Smith and Renshaw were under the pump, the first day belonged exclusively to Australia.

An all too familiar sight for a home summer.

About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy enjoys a good souvlaki and trying to kick droppies from the wrong pocket.

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