The first day of the ‘Gabba Test was a frustrating one for Pakistan. On one hand, they kept Australia relatively quiet on the ground where they always look to ‘shock and awe’ their opponents. On the other hand, they only managed three wickets, dropping the centurion and rival captain Steven Smith once, and then failing to appeal when he edged again. The second session was particularly intriguing. Australia had lost two quick wickets at the end of the first session, and came back strongly after the break. Matt Renshaw, playing only his second Test on his domestic home ground, had played really well up until that point, going past his debut fifty.
In the 36th over, Rahat Ali came into bowl to Renshaw. The opener had already displayed a tendency to get his runs on the onside, often off the backfoot. He had no runs in the cover regions, and only XX behind square. This would imply that he was least comfortable playing towards the offside off his front foot, and it was how he would get out as well.
Rahat began by bowling an outside off-stump line. After defending twice towards the offside, Renshaw was slightly opened up by one that went along the ground to the slips.
35.2 Rahat Ali to Renshaw, no run, shortish, similar lines, Renshaw keeps it out
35.3 Rahat Ali to Renshaw, no run, homing in towards off, Renshaw was opened up slightly, shows an angled bat. Rolls off the soft outer edge towards the cordon
The fourth ball had the same line, but Renshaw tapped the ball on around the fifth stump towards point, and took off for a single. He would face only one more ball from Rahat, in the 38th over, which he played towards his favourite area – behind square on the legside.
In the 40th over, Wahab Riaz bowled to Renshaw for the first time. Ironically given their reputations, Wahab was the one who had bowled with good control all day while Rahat had generally been wild. Here, Wahab was right on the money as his first two balls to Renshaw asked the same questions as Rahat but at greater pace. Wahab managed to get the batsman to play at that line, and the second ball took a thick edge and flew wide of slips.
39.2 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, good length just outside off, punchily pushed towards cover
39.3 Riaz to Renshaw, FOUR, punches a delivery that he probably should have left alone. As a result, gets a thick edge (off the toe of the bat) which bounces and flies to the left of Younis at second slip. Bonus runs these
Wahab kept at that line, and after playing at another delivery outside off for no run, Renshaw played the same get-out shot as he did against Rahat, tapping the ball towards point.
39.5 Riaz to Renshaw, 1 run, yet again it's the soft, silky touch of Matty Renshaw that gifts him the runs, tap-and-run single into the off-side
[Wahab's spell] made it clear that Renshaw’s top priority was not to look to score, but to get bat on ball, writes Ahmer Naqvi
The 42nd over, bowled by Wahab, was one of real beauty. By this time, the post-break Aussie rampage had been arrested, and Pakistan would enjoy a run of X overs where only Y runs were conceded. Bowling fast and just outside off stump, Wahab kept getting more and more accurate. The first two balls of that over were wide enough to be easy leaves.
41.1 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, back of a length wide of off, easy leave
41.2 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, another leave outside off. Australian dressing room *Yawn, chitter-chatter, lean back, eat something* mode
The third got a bit closer, and then the fourth hit that sweet spot where Renshaw was forced to jab at the ball and only find thin air.
41.3 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, Riaz keeps going wider, Renshaw doesn't chase
41.4 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, better, much better! Right in the corridor of uncertainty, the pace is up too - 140ks - Renshaw has an ugly prod and is beaten comfortably on the outside edge
The final two balls were where Wahab got inside Renshaw’s head. First he left him in a very awkward position, looking out of shape. Then, his last ball made it clear that Renshaw’s top priority now was not to look to score, but to get bat on ball.
41.5 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, decks it towards off from a good length, Renshaw gets into a bit of tangle as his head tilts into the leg-side, it was almost as if the ball hit the bat rather than the other way round. Off the toe end and into the off-side
41.6 Riaz to Renshaw, no run, 147ks, watch out Australia. Riaz, slowly but steadily finding his pace and lines. No real movement, Renshaw defends with the straightest of blades
After that maiden, Wahab returned to claim his spoils. The first ball of his next over was a length delivery, allowing Renshaw to get into his favoured backfoot position and defend down the ground.
However, the trick to get him out would be to get him moving forward, which he does little of and doesn’t seem to like doing. Previously, Renshaw had responded to a little pressure by tapping the ball on the offside, and picking up a single. Wahab’s length deliveries hadn’t been wide enough to play that shot, meaning that Renshaw was now liable to go searching if he provided width.
The next ball from Wahab completed the entire set up beautifully. The ball was full, coming in with the angle towards Renshaw on that fifth stump line. After pitching, the ball moved slightly towards the offside. Renshaw couldn’t leave it because of its initial line, and the previous few balls had also left him wanting to get bat on ball. Because of its full length, he was forced to go on the front foot but his style of batting means that he never gets very far. When the ball moved away, it did enough to catch the edge, and take Renshaw’s wicket.
43.2 Riaz to Renshaw, out Caught by Sarfraz!! And there it is. This was always on the cards, Wahab Riaz looked threatening in the previous over and now he has nipped out the impressive Matty Renshaw. Good pace, good lines, good length - can you ask for more from a pacer? Just a hint of nibble away in the corridor of uncertainty causing a stream of confusion in Renshaw's mind. Fishes and feeds a nick to the keeper. Renshaw c Sarfraz b Riaz 71(125) [4s-9]