SYDNEY (Reuters) - David Warner scored his first century since returning from his ball-tampering ban to drive Australia to a first-innings lead of 72 runs over Pakistan with nine wickets in hand on the second day of the opening test on Friday.
The 33-year-old opener finished another sunny day in Brisbane on 151 not out off 265 deliveries with Australia in control at 312 for one in reply to Pakistan’s 240.
Marnus Labuschagne will also resume on Saturday unbeaten on 55 after notching his sixth test half century, with Steve Smith the next batsman up and the hosts looking to bat their opponents out of the contest on a good Gabba track.
Warner’s path to his 22nd century was not entirely smooth and he benefited from a reprieve on 56 when he was caught behind off the bowling of test debutant Naseem Shah.
The 16-year-old schoolboy’s celebrations of his maiden test wicket were abruptly curtailed, however, when television pictures showed he had overstepped the mark.
Warner returned to the crease only to endure another scare on 93 when he was inches from being run out by a direct hit from Yasir Shah fielding in the deep.
There was a nervous wait on 99 over the tea break before he finally reached cricket’s most significant milestone for the first time in nearly two years with a single clipped off his hips.
While Warner’s celebration of his half century earlier in the day had been muted, the lefthander’s delight at the hundred was palpable as he leapt into the air in trademark fashion and kissed the badge on his helmet.
“It means a lot,” said Warner. “My family and I have obviously had a tough period but that support from Australia here doesn’t go unnoticed and I can’t thank everyone enough. And obviously my team mates, they’ve been outstanding.”
After the 12-month ban and a disappointing Ashes series in England, where he managed only 95 runs in 10 innings, it was a more circumspect century, featuring only seven boundaries, than some of those he scored earlier in his career.
Joe Burns also had a point to prove after being dropped for the Ashes series and it looked like he would join his opening partner with a century of his own on his home ground.
He fell three runs short, however, when Yasir’s leg breaks finally earned Pakistan a breakthrough, Burns trapped attempting a sweep and playing on around his legs to depart for 97 and end his 222-run partnership with Warner.
Warner had yet another scare late in the day when an Imran Khan delivery clipped his off stump without dislodging the bails.
“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to keep working hard and backing yourself,” Warner added. “Someone’s looking over me and I’m grateful for that.”
Pakistan may have been ruing the decision to leave out experienced seamer Mohammad Abbas and pick two fast-bowling teenagers and 32-year-old Imran Khan.
Naseem (0-65) did show why he had been awarded his first test cap at such a tender age with some genuine pace-bowling in his 16 overs but it looked a long way back for the tourists at the close of play.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford