Aussie batsman survives 'stinker' to notch maiden Test ton

Andrew Reid

Marnus Labushagne has fulfilled a cricket dream after surviving a big scare in the nineties to seal his maiden Test century on day three at the Gabba against Pakistan.

Labuschagne was a revelation for Australia in the Ashes, filling in for Steve Smith after the former captain was concussed in the second Test.

In fact, apart from Smith, the classy right-handed Queensland star ended the series in England as Australia's next most consistent batsman.

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Labuschagne's average of 50.42 saw him end the series as Australia's second-highest run-scorer, with a total of 353 runs.

As impressive as the 25-year-old's rise in the Test arena has been, the one major thing missing from his CV was a Test century.

That was until Saturday at the Gabba - the milestone made even sweeter as it occurred on Labuschagne's home ground.

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his maiden Test century. Pic: AAP
Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his maiden Test century. Pic: AAP

However, the century looked to be in doubt when Labuschagne was given out in the nineties LBW from the bowling of Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah.

The Aussie immediately reviewed the decision, with Hot Spot showing an inside edge from the bat before it hit his pad.

Viewers let out a collective sigh of relief, before Labuschagne eventually brought up his maiden ton a short time later, courtesy of a fortunate edge down to the third man boundary.

Australia started the day at 1-312 but lost opener David Warner after a swashbuckling 154.

Pakistan's 16-year-old phenomenon Naseem Shah claimed the momentous wicket of Warner, which also happened to be his first wicket ever in Test cricket.

Warner's knock came after a lean Ashes series, however, the opener insisted he was not out of form.

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The lefty-handed batsman scored more runs and faced more balls on Friday than he did in his entire Ashes campaign, after Stuart Broad had him regularly nicking off in England.

But back home on his preferred Australian tracks Warner had no such trouble, looking at complete ease against Pakistan at the Gabba.

Steve Smith was the next to fall for the Aussies after he was uncharacteristically clean bowled by spinner Shah for just four runs, before Labuaschagne hit his milestone.

It ended a run of near things for Queenslander Labuschagne, who has passed 50 in five of his last eight Test innings as well as in three Sheffield Shield games this summer.

A small technical change has helped, opening up his stance slightly with a small trigger movement that also changes the axis of his bat swing.

Again though, there were nervous moments on Saturday.

He survived the chance on 93 after being given out LBW to Shah’s top-spinner.

Labuschagne was also dropped on 33 on day two, as an edge off Haris Sohail went straight through the hands of Asad Shafiq at first slip and straight to the boundary.

But otherwise he was superb.

He drove exquisitely on both sides of the wicket at his home ground, hitting anything full both through the covers and masterfully down past mid on.

Labuschagne's century comes after a remarkable journey for the South African-born batsman.

His family moved to Australia at age 10, and he first featured in a Test at the Gabba in 2010 when he was paid $90 a day to move Channel Nine's hot spot camera.

In 2014 he made his name when he took a smart catch at short leg as a sub-fielder for Australia at the same ground, four years before his Test debut.

In January he scored his first Test half-century in Brisbane, hitting 81 against Sri Lanka in what remained his highest score for Australia until this Test.

But it will be Saturday's knock at the ground he will cherish the most, confirming his position as Australia's best first-drop batsman indefinitely.

With agencies