Australia reach 187-3 on rain-affected opening day of Boxing Day Test


Australia ended a rain-affected opening day of the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in Melbourne on 187-3.

Marnus Labuschagne was 44 not out and Travis Head unbeaten on 10 as the hosts try to seal a series victory.

David Warner made 38 and Usman Khawaja 42, while Steve Smith fell for 26.

Khawaja had his daughters’ names on his shoes, after the International Cricket Council (ICC) charged him for wearing a black armband in support of civilians in Gaza during the first Test.

The 37-year-old was denied permission to have a sticker showing a black dove holding an olive branch on his bat and shoes during the second Test.

Under ICC regulations, players cannot display messages of political, religious or racial causes during international matches.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said it had supported Khawaja’s bid to wear the dove symbol, describing him as “passionate about human rights”.

“The ICC has its regulations and they are there for good reason so we have to respect those,” Hockley said.

“But I think the main way we deal with this is through good communication and working together.”

Khawaja, who is Muslim, has said his message is a “humanitarian appeal” and not a political statement.

Australia captain Pat Cummins said on Monday that the team were sympathetic to Khawaja’s desire to show his support to the people of Gaza.

“I don’t know the ins and outs of the application, but I think it is pretty vanilla, a dove,” he said.

“We really support Uzzy. I think he’s standing up for what he believes and I think he’s doing it really respectfully.”

World Test champions Australia were put into bat on a greenish wicket at the MCG as Pakistan looked to bounce back from their 360-run defeat in Perth.

Left-arm seamers Shaheen Afridi and Mir Hamza found early movement and Warner, playing the penultimate Test of his career, was dropped on two in the third over after edging Afridi to Abdullah Shafique in the slips.

Warner, who made 164 in the first innings of the first Test, eventually fell when edging a wide delivery from spinner Agha Salman to Babar Azam.

Khawaja lasted another six overs before he was also caught in the slips, edging Hassan Ali to Salman.

After a rain delay, Smith was given out lbw to Afridi for 19, but the decision was overturned on review after ball tracking showed the delivery would have gone over the stumps.

The former Australia captain was eventually given out for 26, caught behind off Aamer Jamal, after a successful review from Pakistan showed the faintest of edges. (BBC Sport)


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