December 27, 2023

Australia v Pakistan LIVE updates: Head, Labuschagne chase early runs as Boxing Day Test resumes

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Warner endorses Harris to replace him as Test opener

By Malcolm Conn

Retiring Test opening batsman David Warner has nominated Marcus Harris to replace him at the top of Australia’s order when the veteran departs after the Sydney Test early next month.

Speaking after Australia went to stumps on 3-187 following a rain-marred opening day of the second Test against Pakistan at the MCG on Boxing Day, Warner had no qualms favouring Harris ahead of rival candidates Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw.

Marcus Harris batting in the Sheffield Shield earlier this year.Credit: Getty Images

“It’s a tough one,” Warner, who hit 38 before falling on Tuesday, said when asked who was next in line. “It’s obviously up to the selectors, but from my position, it’s whoever worked their backside off and has been there for a while in the background.

“I think Harry [Harris] has been that person who is going to have that chance. He got a hundred the other day [in a tour match against Pakistan]. He missed out in a couple of other games, but he’s always been that person who was next in line.

“So if the selectors show their faith in him, then I’m sure he’ll come out and play the way he does. He’s not too dissimilar to me. If he sees it in his areas, he goes for it and plays his shots. I think he would fit well.”

Click here to read the story.


The weather at the MCG this morning


What to expect today

By Daniel Brettig

An overcast morning brings the prospect of Travis Head and later Mitchell Marsh playing in their aggressive styles to build on the platform set by the Australian top order on Boxing Day. There is still going to be plenty of life in the MCG surface, and in those conditions Head and Marsh will see it as still more important than usual to put pressure on Pakistan’s bowlers.

Melbourne also has happy memories for No.7 Alex Carey, the scene of his first Test hundred, scored last summer against South Africa. At the other end Marnus Labuschagne has the chance to make his first Test hundred in Melbourne – his previous best was 63 against New Zealand in 2019 – and to this put the capstone on a solid if at times frustrating year with the bat.

A little like Steve Smith, Labuschagne will look back on the year as one where a couple of bigger scores in England might have made a big difference to the final outcome of the Ashes series. Some very light rain is forecast to glide across the MCG at times today, but nothing like the sustained downpour that so disrupted day one.

Marnus Labuschagne.Credit: AP


How Greg Baum saw day one

Many Boxing Day breakfast functions around the MCG were still packing up when Abdullah Shafique dropped a second slip-soda, relieving David Warner and denying Shaheen Shah Afridi. As a replay was shown on the scoreboard, a gasp went around the MCG. The Christmas blear in the eyes of the early comers had not deceived them; it was as easy as they had thought.

For many previous touring sides in Australia, it might have been the last gasp. So many are defeated before they start. Resigned to their fate, they slouch indifferently onto the field, bat timidly, bowl erratically, leak runs in the field and drop catches like three-year-olds drop unwanted Christmas presents.

Got their man: Salman Agha celebrates the wicket of David Warner.Credit: Getty Images

Pakistan may well lose this series 3-0. It would hardly be a shock. Indeed, it’s expected. They’re ranked sixth in the world, far from home and callow. Australia are No.1, vastly experienced and masters of their unique home conditions. In particularly inhospitable Perth, the gulf showed.

But whatever becomes of this Pakistan team on this tour, it won’t be because of want of attitude. They’ve come determined to make the most of what an Australian tour has to offer.

Read the full piece here.


Welcome to day two

G’day everyone. I’m Roy Ward and I’ll be tapping the keys once again today as we begin day two of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Marnus Labuschagne (44 not out) and Travis Head (nine not out) will resume for Australia who sit on 3-187 looking to set a big score but the pitch has some life in it, so they won’t have everything their own way once Pakistan’s bowlers get going.

Play starts at 10am AEDT due to the rain delays on day one. Please enjoy the hours to come.

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