Australia navigated through the opening day of the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in Melbourne, finishing at 187-3. The hosts, aiming for a series victory, had Marnus Labuschagne standing strong at 44 not out, while Travis Head was unbeaten on 10 as play concluded prematurely due to the rainy weather.
The day began with Australia opting to bat on a greenish wicket, a decision influenced by Pakistan’s desire to bounce back from their 360-run defeat in Perth. The early exchanges saw left-arm seamers Shaheen Afridi and Mir Hamza exploiting the conditions to create movement, and despite an early scare where David Warner was dropped on two, the visitors managed to make crucial breakthroughs.
Warner, playing the penultimate Test of his career, contributed 38 runs before falling to spinner Agha Salman. Usman Khawaja, who had his daughters’ names on his shoes, was another notable contributor with 42 runs. However, he was dismissed after an edged delivery from Hassan Ali was caught in the slips.
Steve Smith, the former Australian captain, faced a review for an LBW decision, which was eventually overturned. He fell for 26, caught behind off Aamer Jamal following a successful review from Pakistan, showing a faint edge.
One of the day’s focal points was Khawaja’s symbolic gesture, displaying his daughters’ names on his shoes. The International Cricket Council (ICC) charged Khawaja for wearing a black armband during the first Test in support of civilians in Gaza.
Although denied permission for a black dove symbol on his bat and shoes during the second Test due to ICC regulations against political, religious, or racial messages, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley and captain Pat Cummins expressed support for Khawaja’s commitment to human rights.
Pakistan is currently yet to bat, and no date has been fixed for when that would happen.