Sydney: Marnus Labuschagne scored a sparkling 185 to help Australia to a commanding lead before their pace attack struck to leave Pakistan facing a heavy defeat on the third day of the first Test in Brisbane on Saturday.
Queenslander Labuschagne’s maiden Test century, combined with a doughty 154 from the bat of David Warner, fired the hosts to 580 all out in response to Pakistan’s 240 an hour after tea at the Gabba.
Quicks Mitchell Starc (2-25) and Pat Cummins (1-16) then took over to reduce the tourists to 64 for three, still 276 runs short of forcing Australia to bat again.
Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq were all sent packing cheaply to leave opener Shan Masood, who had made 27 not out, and Babar Azam, unbeaten on 20, fighting a desperate rearguard action.
Australia have not lost at the Gabba since 1988 and the efforts of the experienced Warner and the more junior Labuschagne almost certainly ensured that record would be extended for another year.
“It’s a dream come true,” Labuschagne said of scoring his first Test century on his home ground. “It was set up by the boys at the start and I was able to capitalise on that.
“It’s a privilege to play with this hat on and ... if I can score runs along the way, that’s great.” Warner, who resumed on 151 after building the foundations of the innings in a 222-run opening partnership with Joe Burns, looked exhausted by his efforts on day two and added only three runs to his tally before departing an hour into play.
Pakistan’s 16-year-old pace bowler Naseem Shah celebrated his first Test wicket with the key dismissal and when Yasir Shah prised out Steve Smith for a paltry four runs there was a small glimmer of hope for the tourists.
That hope was washed away by a torrent of runs from the bat of Labuschagne, who resumed his 16th Test innings on 55 and quickly assumed the mantle of aggressor from Warner.
He had a scare when he was given out lbw to Yasir on 93. It was reviewed immediately and the TV pictures showed a clear inside edge.
After a morning of clean-striking, the 25-year-old reached the hundred in fortuitous fashion with a thick outside edge for his 12th four.
Having put on 129 runs with Warner, Labuschagne constructed a partnership of 110 with Matthew Wade (60) and looked unmovable as he powered the hosts to 532-5 at tea.
The effort of batting for so long in the Brisbane sun finally caught up with him, however, and a loose cut at a Shaheen Afridi delivery — the 279th he had faced — went straight to Azam at gully.
The last five Australian batsmen were dismissed at a cost of 35 runs with leg-spinner Yasir taking 4-205, including the wicket of Smith for the seventh time in six Test matches.
Pakistan (1st innings) 240 all out
Australia (1st innings)
D. Warner c Rizwan b Naseem Shah 154
M. Labuschagne c Azam b Afridi 185
S. Smith b Yasir Shah 4
M. Wade c Rizwan b Sohail 60
T. Head c Rizwan b Sohail 24
T. Paine c Shafiq b Afridi 13
P. Cummins c Rizwan b Imran Khan 7
M. Starc lbw Yasir Shah 5
N. Lyon Not Out 13
J. Hazlewood lbw Yasir Shah 5
Extras: (6b 4lb 3nb 0pen 0w) 13
Total: (157.4 overs) 580 all out
Fall of Wickets: 2-351 Warner, 3-358 Smith, 4-468 Wade, 5-506 Head, 6-545 Paine, 7-546 Labuschagne, 8-559 Starc, 9-567 Cummins, 10-580 Hazlewood
Bowling: Afridi 34-7-96-2; Imran Khan 24-3-73-1; Naseem Shah 20-1-68-1; Iftikhar 12-0-53-0; Yasir Shah 48.4-1-205-4; Sohail 19-1-75-2.
Pakistan (2nd innings)
S. Masood Not Out 27
A. Ali lbw Starc 5
H. Sohail c Paine b Starc 8
A. Shafiq c Smith b Cummins 0
Babar Azam Not Out 20
Extras: (0b 3lb 1nb 0pen 0w) 4
Total: (17.0 overs) 64-3
Fall of Wickets: 1-13 Ali, 2-25 Sohail, 3-25 Shafiq.
Bowling: Starc 4-0-25-2; Cummins 5-1-16-1; Hazlewood 6-1-16-0; Lyon 2-1-4-0.