Marsh raises domestic support for strengthening Australia’s control – LSB

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lunch Australia 476 for 7 (Marsh 90*, Cummins 9*) vs Pakistan

Allrounder Mitchell Marsh hammered a lackluster Pakistan attack in the opening session of day two as Australia built on their massive first innings total in the opening Test series at Optus Stadium.

He reached lunch unbeaten on 90 and made the surface look flat although he was helped by a Pakistani attack that appeared to be on pace.

Marsh enjoyed playing his first Test match at Optus Stadium after dominating at his home ground over the years in the BBL for Perth Scorchers. He also justified the confidence of the selectors who stuck with him over his Western Australian team-mate Cameron Green.

Marsh and Alex Carey had laid the foundation after thwarting the new ball in the shade late on day one to cap Australia’s dominant start to the series.

With Australia resuming at 346 for 5, after David Warner dominated the first day, Pakistan needed to bat with the relatively new ball and spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi was tasked with getting his team back into contention.

After new skipper Shan Masood took defensive fields late on the opening day, Afridi was armed with three slips at the start of the day’s play. He found the right line and length on the second ball of the day to hit Carey on the pads, but Pakistan wisely did not review the no-out decision with replays suggesting the ball would have gone past the stumps.

It was a cautious start until Marsh capitalized on a short pass from speedy debutant Khurram Shahzad, who impressed with a disciplined period after lunch on day one as he reached mid-130km/h speeds. But he bowled considerably slower at the start of the second day, and Marsh and Carey easily handled his speed.

Fellow debutant Aamer Jamal had expressed after the first day that Pakistan aimed to bowl Australia after an hour of play today, but those hopes were quickly eroded and the bowling became rougher.

Out of desperation, Afridi resorted to slower balls which failed to produce the desired effect.

Marsh unleashed his muscular batting with powerful strokes around the wicket and was particularly impressed by the harmless, short-pitched deliveries that were delivered. He raced to his half-century off 66 balls and his aggressiveness rubbed off on Carey, who hit two cover drives in three deliveries from seamer Faheem Ashraf.

Carey was on his way to make a statement following his disappointment after being left out of the Australia squad during the World Cup. But on 34 the ball was comprehensively bowled over by an unplayable pass from Jamal, who entered the attack just before drinks.

Jamal took two wickets on the first day, but his performance was hampered by misdirection and bowling at fairly subdued speeds.

He unleashed aggressive bowling, pushing at 140km/h, after drinking and produced another brilliant delivery to beat Mitchell Starc.

But Marsh counter-attacked and smashed Jamal for six over midwicket as he approached his fourth Test century. Jamal reverted to a short-pitched lineout, with players spread out around the boundary, against Marsh who resisted the bait as lunch approached.

A crowd of 16,000 on the first day was seen as a good result from local officials – despite the much higher goals initially – and the tight-knit fans may be tempted to turn out in their numbers after lunch with their hometown hero taking center stage.

Tristan Lavallette is a journalist based in Perth

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