BRISBANE        -         Fast bowlers helped Australia take a 1-0 lead as they defeated Pakistan by an innings and five runs in the first Test in Brisbane, despite fighting knocks from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood snared 18 wickets between them as the hosts romped to a comfortable victory on the fourth day. Earlier in the day, Pakistan began well with Azam and Shan Masood starting from where they had left off the day before, adding useful runs and building a half-century stand for the fourth wicket. Their resistance, however, did not last long as a Pat Cummins’ bouncer was Masood’s undoing, and he had to depart on 42. Australia did not have to wait long for the next breakthrough, with Josh Hazlewood snapping up Iftikhar Ahmed for a duck in the very next over.

At 94 for five and still well over 200 runs behind Australia’s first innings total, Pakistan were staring at a heavy defeat, but Azam, along with wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan, led their fightback. Both batsmen showed application as they punished the poor balls and played cautiously against the good ones.

Azam brought up his second Test century, shortly after bringing up the 100-run stand with Rizwan, with a cracking four off Cummins through extra cover. Not long after, it was Rizwan’s turn to shine as he brought up his maiden Test fifty in the next over, also with a four. With Pakistan rapidly chipping at Australia’s lead, the hosts needed something special to take back the advantage and it was their tried and trusted spinner Nathan Lyon, who provided the breakthrough.

Lyon, bowling his 16th over, beat Azam for pace as the batsman ended up edging one to Tim Paine behind the stumps, thus breaking the 132-run partnership. Despite Azam’s wicket, Rizwan continued in the same vein with Yasir Shah, taking Pakistan to tea without further damage. The duo shared a 79-run stand for the seventh wicket, frustrating Australia further.

However, Rizwan’s impatience to get his maiden Test ton proved costly, when he uppercut a shortish ball from Hazlewood straight into the hands of Lyon at deep backward point on 95. With his resistance finally ending, Australia took the second new ball and snapped up the final three wickets for just 11 runs.

Batting in the first innings, Pakistan were bowled out for 240 with an excellent display of fast bowling from Australia. The hosts then performed equally well with the bat, with David Warner (154) and Marnus Labuschagne (185) getting hundreds in their score of 580, that gave them a 340-run lead over the visitors.

Player of the match Marnus Labuschagne said: “It’s pretty special to have it pan out like this. It’s good to have a winning contribution and help us win the Test match. It’s a big thing for not only me but also my family. Some of the technical changes that I have done since England have helped me so much.”

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said: “When we won the toss, we wanted to score big in the first innings. But I think on the first day we won two sessions but we lost one very badly. I think if you lose one session very badly in Test matches it is always very hard to come back from that especially in Australia. I think that was the missed opportunity. Then when we came out to bowl we didn’t build enough pressure.

“Babar and Rizwan showed the way today and also Shan played really well. It’s always tough leaving Abbas out. He’s always performed well for us. But these three who played had been bowling exceptionally well. They bowled phenomenally against a very good Australia A side. I think Abbas is always there for us. We’ll look at the balance in the next couple of days. Naseem was bowling well. He looked very fit. We don’t want him to break obviously. He is very young. We want him to have a long career. Yes we want him badly but we had to manage him accordingly,” he added.