Perth: 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 in front of a sparse crowd of barely 16,000 at the 60,000-capacity Perth Stadium.
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 soaking in the applause.
It was his 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 by Abdullah Shafique 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.
Head cashed in with a quick 40 before top-edging straight to Agha Salman, ensuring Jamal too earned a first Test wicket to end a trying day as the best of the bowlers with 2-63.
Brief scores: Australia (1st innings) 346-5 in 84 overs (David Warner 164, Usman Khawaja 41, Steve Smith 31, Travis Head 40; Aamer Jamal 2/63).