He has been described as the “heartbeat” of Justin Langer’s new look team and 24-year-old debutant Marnus Labuschagne certainly lived up to that tag on day two of the first Test between Australia and Pakistan in Dubai.
Pakistan were working their way to a massive first innings total on Monday when the Queenslander struck with a quick one two in just three overs.
Firstly, he had Asad Shafiq caught behind on 80 with his energetic leg-spin then he produced a sharp run out to dismiss Babar Azam 18 balls later.
But Labuschagne (pronounced ‘La-boo-shane’) did not even expect to be playing in this Test, with Matt Renshaw expected to fill the No6 batting berth.
But all that changed when Renshaw was hit in the helmet fielding at short leg against Pakistan A and Labuschagne was given his chance as his replacement in that game.
Although primarily a batsman, Marnus Labuschagne took his maiden Test wicket today before he's had a chance to bat.— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 8, 2018
He spoke to @GeoffLemonSport at the close of play after another tiring day for Australia. #PAKvAUS pic.twitter.com/F8MykcDUX7
A fluid 39 not out and some lively overs of leg spin convinced the Australian selectors he should be given his chance – and the South African born youngster has grabbed it with both hands.
“I’m just happy I was able to contribute out there in some way,” said a beaming Labuschagne after the day’s play. “We fought really well for two days there and (I just wanted to do) anything to contribute to the team.”
“Obviously with the ball first, it was great to get the wicket but mainly just to do the best for the team and find a way for us to keep getting wickets.”
Even with Labuschagne’s heroics Pakistan still managed to compile 482 and the Aussies will have a challenge to put up a similar first innings total especially with Yasir Shah set to work his magic over the next day or so.
But Labuschagne is upbeat.
“Look the wickets pretty good,” he said. “It’s deteriorated a little bit but I think it will hold together pretty well and I think if we can put a good batting performance on the board, which I’m sure we will, it will put us in very good stead for that third innings.”
Asked about how the Australians maintained their energy through the nearly two full days in the field, Labuschagne revealed: “On wickets that are like this, quite flat wickets, it’s just about being patient and trying to keep the energy up in the field to make sure we’re ready for when there is a small chance coming.
“Just those small opportunities to change the momentum of the game on slower days like today.”
Thanks to Labuschagne the Aussies certainly took those opportunities and it sets up an intriguing three days of cricket ahead.
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