Marnus Labuschagne has held on to a stunning catch at short leg to kick off Australia’s bid for a series win against Pakistan.
The Queenslander became a cult hero when he took a diving catch at the position as a sub fielder in a 2014 Test against India.
Now, wearing the baggy green in his second Test match, he has taken a catch with full credit.
Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat in the second Test in Abu Dhabi but Mitchell Starc ensured it wouldn’t be a perfect opening.
The wicket was set up superbly as Starc sent down a fearsome bouncer earlier in the over that reared into Hafeez’s shoulder and left the Pakistan opener calling for the trainer.
The left-arm paceman then swung a ball into Mohammad Hafeez’s pads and the ball was flicked through to Labuschagne at short leg.
The Australian fieldsman bobbled the ball on his body, his leg and then between his knees to secure the catch.
The catch was sent upstairs to confirm the ball did not hit the ground, but Labuschagne always had it in the air.
The Test rookie was praised by former Australian captain Allan Border for his commitment in the position.
“He’s just got that bravery to stand his ground, keep his eye on the ball,” Allan Border said in commentary.
“If you’re turning your head you’ve got no chance.”
Cricket fans went wild for the catch:
Labuschagne… Deadset screamer that
— Sam Phillips (@samphillips06) October 16, 2018
One of the best catch on forward short leg by Labuschagne#PAKvsAUS
— suman kumar (@suman1826) October 16, 2018
I'll give Labuschagne the money and he can buy me a lotto ticket. #PAKvAUS
— James Godby (@jimlikescricket) October 16, 2018
Marnus Labuschagne already a favourite
— Parshva (@Parshva7939) October 16, 2018
Many might call it luck but I think this wicket goes to Labuschagne's courage.#PAKvAUS
— Mohsin Kamal (@MohsinKamal64) October 16, 2018
Incredible catch from Labuschagne. Reminiscent of Mark Taylor's famous juggling act. Huge breakthrough for Australia. Hafeez out.
— Ben Horne (@BenHorne8) October 16, 2018
That is a great catch by Labuschagne.
And by that I mean it hit him in the balls. And then he caught it.
— Jarrod Kimber (@ajarrodkimber) October 16, 2018
The dismissal brought Azhar Ali to the crease – and the very next over he was the subject of a review.
Peter Siddle led the charge for an lbw call but replays showed the ball was edged on to Ali’s pad.
Unfortunately for Labuschagne, he later dropped what looked to be a simple catch off Ali at midwicket when it slipped out of his hands as he dived forward.
Moments later Ali fell caught and bowled moments to Nathan Lyon, who had Haris Sohail caught at silly point the very next ball to reduce Pakistan to 3-57 after 20 overs.
Teammates stunned by cricket-obsessed rookie
The 24-year-old Labuschagne, who spoke Afrikaans in his native South Africa and did not learn English until he arrived in Australia aged 10, has been nicknamed ‘Sangos’ by his teammates on the basis he could live off cricket-ball sandwiches.
“He’s Sangos for the sheer amount of cricket he likes to consume, whether it be at training hitting balls, or shadow-batting in the mirror in his hotel room,” Starc said prior to the first Test.
“He loves the game of cricket and it’s a great energy amongst the group for someone like him to come in to show us older guys that as well.
“He knows his game thoroughly … I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do on the world stage.”