Late wickets leave Aussies on verge of first Test win

Australian Associated Press

Australia are seven wickets away from victory over Pakistan in the first Test, with Marnus Labuschagne's maiden Test century highlighting new-found batting depth at home.

The tourists went to stumps at 3-64 on Saturday's third day at the Gabba, still needing another 276 runs to make Australia bat again after the hosts put on 580 in their first innings.

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Mitchell Starc was the late destroyer, trapping captain Azhar Ali lbw and having Haris Sohail caught behind before Pat Cummins also had Asad Shafiq edging off to third slip for a duck.

But Saturday's highlight was Labuschagne's strokeplay, passing David Warner's 154 with his highest first-class score of 185.

Matthew Wade also hit 60 to go with Joe Burns' 97 at the top on Friday, with Steve Smith the only member of the top five not to pass 50, making four in a rare failure.

Mitchell Starc grabbed two second innings wickets to ram home Australia's advantage.
Mitchell Starc's two late wickets capped off a dominant day three for the Aussies. Pic: AAP

The issue of scoring runs when Smith has failed has long been an issue for Australia.

Captain Tim Paine spoke before the match of the need for others to stand up, after admitting the Aussies relied too heavily on the man dubbed "the best since Bradman" in the Ashes.

But on Saturday, Australia showed it was possible.

Their 580 marked the first time since the 2014 Boxing Day Test that the Aussies passed 300 in an innings where Smith failed to reach double figures.

Labuschagne was superb in his best day for Australia.

Labuschagne navigates through nervous 90s

He endured some nervous moments in the 90s but, otherwise, drove masterfully down the ground and worked the ball behind the wicket at ease.

The Queenslander roared in joy when he converted his fifth 50 into a maiden ton, edging Shaheen Shah Afridi for four to bring up triple figures.

He looked set to make it a double century, before an edge from Shaheen (2-96) this time went to gully shortly after tea.

Seen here, Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his massive maiden Test ton.
The story of day three was Labuschagne's massive debut Test century. Pic: AAP

His knock further strengthened Australia's top-three security, with Burns looking a lock at the top alongside Warner after Friday's 222-run opening stand.

Warner earlier added just three to his overnight score in a tough first hour.

After resuming on 151, he battled away against the Pakistan quicks before becoming teenage sensation Naseem Shah's first Test wicket.

Naseem bowled only four overs on Saturday, but claimed his prized scalp when a short ball brushed the back of Warner's bat as he attempted to evade it.

Smith fell moments later, out to Yasir Shah for the seventh time in his career when he was bowled trying to hit a full ball behind square on the legside.

Yasir finished with 4-205, making him the first bowler to go for 200 three times in Australia.

Part-time spinner Haris also took 2-75, getting Wade and Travis Head (24) caught behind before Australia's lower order fell within an hour after tea.