Warner snubs critics with swashbuckling164 to put hosts in control against Pakistan

Australian batter Khawaja wears a black armband in protest after ban on his 'all lives are equal' shoe

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Australia’s David Warner celebrates reaching 150 runs on the first day of the first Test cricket match between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium in Perth on December 14, 2023. - AFP
Australia’s David Warner celebrates reaching 150 runs on the first day of the first Test cricket match between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium in Perth on December 14, 2023. - AFP

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 4:57 PM

Veteran opener David Warner hammered a gritty 164 to silence the critics and steer Australia to 346-5 against an inconsistent Pakistan attack in the first Test at Perth on Thursday.

The 37-year-old batted for much of day one before finally departing to Aamer Jamal, two balls after smashing the debutant for six.

At stumps, Mitchell Marsh was unbeaten on 15 and Alex Carey not out 14.

Pakistan have never won a Test series in Australia and have failed to win a Test in the country since 1995, with Shan Masood's side again facing a daunting task.

Their bowlers showed flashes of brilliance and were rewarded with the wickets of Usman Khawaja (41), Marnus Labuschagne (16), Steve Smith (31) and Travis Head (40).

But until Jamal struck, they had no answer to a near-flawless Warner who smashed 16 fours and four sixes in a majestic 211-ball innings.

He padded up under pressure to score runs with an emotional goodbye from Test cricket at the third Test in Sydney in front of his hometown fans his stated goal.

In the lead-up, former Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson questioned whether Warner deserved a hero's farewell given his recent poor red-ball form and involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

With his back against the wall in his 110th Test, Warner responded in typically swashbuckling fashion.

"People make comments, but you get one with it. You have to just go out there and score runs and today I did that," said Warner. "I don't feel any extra pressure, any other points I have to prove.

"If people are out to get you or make a headline out of your name, so be it. I can't worry about that, I've got to worry about what I do for the team."

After Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to bat, Warner took a confident single off his first ball in an opening over from Shaheen Shah Afridi that leaked 14 runs and never looked back.

On a pitch offering bounce, he quickly settled in to bring up his half-century off just 41 balls with a boundary from Faheem Ashraf.

His strike rate slowed after lunch as he moved towards a 26th Test ton, reaching three figures with an uppercut boundary off Jamal, celebrating with his trademark leap and putting his finger to his mouth.

"It was a nice, little quiet shush," Warner said of his celebration, referring to the criticism.

Cummins said on ABC Grandstand: "Great day. I think day one here is never the easiest time to bat but the boys put on a clinic, 100-0 is pretty amazing.

"You never write off a great player like Davey, you almost half expect it when his back is against the wall. It was trademark and I couldn't be happier, he's a champion and I'm really happy for him.

"I think he's always taken pride in silencing a few critics, he would have been pleased with that, it was quite amazing.

It was Warner's first century since a battling 200 against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground a year ago.

He was dropped by Khurram Shahzad soon after bringing up his milestone but was otherwise in command until Jamal tempted him with a short ball and he was caught near the ropes by Imam-ul-Haq.

Khawaja, wearing a black armband in solidarity with the people of Gaza, was happy to play second fiddle in a 126-run opening stand.

He had a massive let-off on 25 when dropped but departed when Pakistan's bowlers picked up their game after lunch, caught by wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed off Afridi's bowling.

Labuschagne looked in good nick, racing to 16 when he was beaten by a ball pitched up by Ashraf and given out lbw.

Smith clattered a four through midwicket off his second ball to signal his intent but, after effortlessly making 31, he was deceived by a delivery from Shahzad and got a faint edge to the diving Ahmed.

It was a maiden Test wicket for the debutant.

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"I still believe we are in the game," said Jamal. "We are planning to get them out in the first hour tomorrow morning."

Brief scores

First Test, Perth Stadium (day one):

Australia: 346-5 (Warner 164; Usman Khawaja (41), Steve Smith (31) Travis Head (40; Jamal 2-63)


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