Delhi Capitals sealed a big victory in the race for the playoffs against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League on Monday, thanks largely to the efforts of Mitchell Marsh and Shardul Thakur.

Marsh top-scored with 63 runs as the Capitals posted a target of 160, which the Kings never realistically looked like reaching, in part due to Shardul's outstanding four-wicket haul.

Things could not have started in worse fashion for the Capitals, with David Warner out first ball to Liam Livingstone (3-27).

However, Sarfaraz Khan (32) and Marsh steadied the ship with a partnership of 51, while Marsh and Lalit Yadav (24) added a further 47 to the total, with Arshdeep Singh (3-37) taking the wickets of both Khan and Yadav.

Livingstone then struck twice to remove Rishabh Pant (7) and Rovman Powell (2), before Kagiso Rabada finally claimed Marsh for 63 off 48 balls with 10 deliveries remaining.

Jonny Bairstow (28) and Shikhar Dhawan (19) made a good start to the reply with a partnership of 38 inside four overs before the England man fell to Anrich Nortje.

There soon followed a collapse for the Kings, who quickly went from 53-1 to 67-6 with only Jitesh Sharma showing any sign of sticking around.

He and Rahul Chahar (25) calmed things down to claim 41 from five overs before Jitesh fell for 44 from 34 balls, and although the Kings avoided losing all 10 wickets, Shardul (4-36) completed a strong bowling spell to comfortably close the game out for a 17-run victory, moving the Capitals to fourth in the table.

Shardul leads joint-bowling effort

While Shardul will get the headlines with his four wickets, there was some tremendous economic bowling on display elsewhere in the Capitals' attack.

Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav both posted figures of 2-14, with the former doing so from four overs at a rate of just 3.50, conceding just one boundary.

Kings suffer with the bat

Bairstow, Dhawan, Jitesh, and Chahar aside, the Kings really let themselves down with the bat.

Only one of the top five batsmen in the order hit a six (Bairstow), while no other batsman aside from the aforementioned quartet scored more than six overall.

Delhi Capitals remain in Indian Premier League playoff contention after Mitchell Marsh and David Warner powered them to an eight-wicket victory against Rajasthan Royals.

The Royals had won all four of their previous IPL meetings with Delhi in Mumbai, but their opponents had no trouble in chasing down a target of 161 for a crucial victory.

That is despite losing opener KS Bharat on a duck off the second ball, with Australian duo Marsh and Warner sharing a 144-run stand to pave the way for a successful chase. 

Rishabh Pant also contributed 13 runs after Marsh (89) was caught by Kuldeep Sen in the 19th over, allowing Warner (52 not out) to score the winning runs with 11 balls to spare.

Ravichandran Ashwin had earlier hit a maiden IPL fifty, while Devdutt Padikkal chipped in with 48, but the Royals could only muster 160-6 from their 20 overs.

Chetan Sakariya starred with the ball for the Capitals with figures of 2-23, while Marsh and Anrich Nortje also took a couple of wickets each.

Oz delight for Delhi

Marsh's blistering knock of 89 was his highest in the IPL, consisting of seven sixes and five fours.

Warner also impressed with his 52 runs, meaning he has now registered 50-or-more runs on 30 occasions – eight more than next best Shikhar Dhawan.

Royals outclassed

Only against Punjab Kings (14) have the Royals won more IPL games than they have against the Capitals (13), yet they were easily second best on Wednesday.

Instead of tightening their hold on a top-four spot, they are now just two points ahead of fifth-placed Delhi and still have work to do if they are to reach the play-offs.

David Warner was in inspirational form as he spearheaded the Delhi Capitals to a 21-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad to boost their playoff hopes in the Indian Premier League.

Warner issued a rallying cry to the Capitals' top order on Wednesday with the franchise in danger of missing out on a spot in the next round.

And it was as if he felt the need to lead by example as he produced a stellar showing, hitting 92 not out to break the record for most T20 half-centuries in history as the Capitals set a significant target of 207-3.

It was just as well Warner was so sharp as the Capitals endured a difficult start when fellow opener Mandeep Singh was removed for a duck by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-25) on the fifth ball – Mitchell Marsh (10) did not last much longer.

Captain Rishabh Pant proved a reasonable partner to Warner with 26 off 16 balls before falling to Shreyas Gopal (1-34), but that would prove to be the final Capitals wicket to tumble.

Rovman Powell (67 not out) and Warner put on a stand of 122 as the Capitals surpassed 200, with Umran Malik (0-52) and Kartik Tyagi (0-37) in particular toiled with the ball.

Sunrisers' chase did not start especially well as Abhishek Sharma and Kane Williamson put on just 11 between them – Rahul Tripathi at least managed double that figure, but they needed more.

Aiden Markram (42) and Nicholas Pooran (62) at least offered some resistance with their 60-run stand, but hope dissolved after the former skied a delivery from the excellent Khaleel Ahmed (3-30) into the hands of Kuldeep Yadav.

Although Pooran managed to reach his half-century, no one else added more than 10 as Sunrisers fell well short at 186-8.

Warner makes history

This was Warner's fourth half-century of the season and comfortably his biggest total (by 26 runs), but the focus was on his new record as he surpassed Chris Gayle (88) for the most 50s in T20 cricket.

After managing a disappointing three last time out, Warner's display here was a timely response against his former team. His haul came from just 58 balls and included 15 boundaries, three of which were maximums. Warner certainly did not do it all himself, as Powell's contribution was significant, but it was some showing.

All pace no precision?

Malik recorded the second-fastest ball in IPL history in the 20th over of the Capitals' innings, the delivery clocking 157 kilometres per hour. But, in general, he did not enjoy a great day.

The Capitals totalled 52 runs against him, more than any other bowler, and he did not claim a single wicket.

Rovman Powell hit 33 off 16 balls to ensure the Delhi Capitals sealed a four-wicket victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday.

A knock of 42 from David Warner had helped to set the table for Powell, with the Capitals condemning the Knight Riders to their fifth straight loss in the Indian Premier League.

Kolkata mostly struggled with the bat themselves, with captain Shreyas Iyer the only man to show any resistance in the early stages with 42, while Nitish Rana added a much-needed 57 later on.

Apart from Rinku Singh's 23, no other Knight Rider managed double figures, and they were only able to reach 146-9 from their 20 overs.

Prithvi Shaw was out first ball for Delhi in reply, caught and bowled by Umesh Yadav (3-24), but Warner was able to guide his team through the early overs to build a base for the chase.

The Capitals did enter panic mode slightly as they went from 82-2 to 84-5, with skipper Rishabh Pant out for just two.

However, Powell and Axar Patel (24) calmed things down, with Powell the aggressor with one four and three sixes as he saw his team home with an over the spare.

Batting woes for Knight Riders

If you bat first in T20 cricket, you better set a big total, even if just to put an element of doubt in the chasing team's minds.

It's not that 146 is a poor total, but that almost all the runs came from just three batsmen was the real issue for Kolkata.

Six others came and went without making more than six runs, with Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Tim Southee all falling for ducks.

Tight bowling the difference

It would be harsh to dismiss those batting failures without crediting the bowling that caused them. Delhi's attack was fierce at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mustafizur Rahman (3-18) and Kuldeep Yadav (4-14) were particularly impressive, with the former bowling 14 dot balls in his four-over spell.

The Delhi Capitals put in their best performance of the season with bat and ball to secure a comfortable 44-run win against top of the table Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

The Capitals made a strong start, reaching 148-1 within 13 overs after Prithvi Shaw and David Warner had caused some damage, with Rishabh Pant continuing the good work after Shaw fell for 51.

However, a minor batting collapse saw them slip to 166-5, with Warner eventually out for 61 after he could only find Ajinkya Rahane on the boundary off the bowling of Umesh Yadav (1-48).

Axar Patel (22 not out) and Shardul Thakur (29 not out) rescued the innings, though, smashing an additional 49 to set the Knight Riders an imposing total of 216 for victory.

Venkatesh Iyer looked to be setting the tone at the start of Kolkata's reply, hitting 18 from eight balls before falling to Khaleel Ahmed (3-25), who also took the wicket of Rahane (8) shortly after.

Shreyas Iyer (54) and Nitish Rana (30) tried to build a foundation for the chase, before both fell in the 12th and 13th overs.

Sam Billings could only manage 15 before hitting Ahmed to Lalit Yadav, before Kuldeep Yadav (4-35) took three wickets in his last four balls to extinguish any hope for the Knight Riders, who were eventually all out for 171.

Warner and Shardul lead the way

After making just four from 12 balls in his first game of the IPL season against the Lucknow Super Giants, Warner found his form here as he hit 61 from 45 balls, including six fours and two sixes.

Shardul also plundered an important 29 from 11, hitting Pat Cummins for six off the last ball, one of three maximums he managed in his short time at the crease, before also going on to take 2-30 with the ball.

Cummins struggles continue

It has not been the start to his IPL season that Cummins will have hoped for with the ball, having conceded 100 runs from eight overs so far.

The Australia Test captain took 2-49 last time out against Mumbai Indians, but only managed 0-51 from his four overs here, being hit for three sixes.

Usman Khawaja fell three runs shy of a century as Australia produced a superb top-order performance on day three of the first Test against Pakistan.

Responding to Pakistan's first innings' 476-4 declared and resuming on five without loss, Khawaja's 97, along with half-centuries from David Warner (68) and Marnus Labuschagne (69 not out), took the tourists to 271-2 - trailing by 205 runs when bad light stopped play.

It means Australia, playing with heavy hearts following the sudden passing of legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne on Friday, are in an excellent position to at least claim a draw.

The Islamabad-born Khawaja and Warner laid the foundations, combining for a stand of 156, the second-highest opening partnership in Test history in Rawalpindi.

Both Khawaja and Warner played in attacking fashion, the former's half-century coming off just 67 balls. Warner's came in 86, but he was undone when he attempted to go square through the off side and missed a Sajid Khan delivery that careered into middle stump.

His exit did not open the floodgates as Pakistan might have hoped, but they did at least prevent Khawaja from recording an 11th Test hundred.

Khawaja contributed to his own downfall as he got a reverse sweep all wrong, gloving Nauman Ali to Imam-ul-Haq at foward short-leg, with Aleem Dar forced to overturn his original not out decision following a review.

Yet, with Labuschange and Steve Smith (24 not out) surviving until the fading light forced the players off, Australia have two batters who are among the most difficult in world cricket to dislodge set at the crease, a sign that is, for Pakistan, as ominous as the gloom that stopped proceedings.

Khawaja and Warner narrowly miss out on history

Only Mark Taylor and Michael Slater (176) have linked up for a higher first-wicket stand than Khawaja and Warner in Rawalpindi, that duo excelling in October 1994 in a match that ultimately ended in a draw. The same result looks likely again here after Khawaja and Warner narrowly missed out on surpassing their compatriots.

Labuschagne to let loose?

Pakistan will have painful memories of their previous two encounters against Labuschagne, which saw him score 185 at Brisbane and then 162 at Adelaide in 2019. He looks in the kind of form to deliver another massive score.

Babar Azam says Pakistan are ready to give Australia a "tough time" when a historic three-match series gets under way at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Australia will be playing their first Test in Pakistan for 24 years and the two nations will be competing for the honour of lifting the Benaud-Qadir Trophy for the first time.

Pakistan whitewashed Bangladesh 2-0 in their last Test series, but they will have to do without the injured Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf along with Haris Rauf – who tested positive for coronavirus.

Australia are top of the rankings after thrashing England 4-0 to retain the Ashes, but Babar says Pakistan can bring them back down to earth.

The Pakistan captain said: "It did disturb our combination, especially injuries to Faheem and Hasan. Faheem contributes both with ball and bat, and Hasan is one of the top bowlers, a proven match-winner.

"Still, we have Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, who both are bowling well, and Fawad Alam and [Mohammad] Rizwan in good batting form. Australia is one of the best sides, we can't take it easy against them.

"We did well against Bangladesh. In this series, too, we will do well and give them a tough time. Fans can expect quality cricket from us."

Andrew McDonald has been installed as Australia's interim head coach after Justin Langer's departure.

Both Babar and Australia skipper Pat Cummins revealed they will wait until the coin toss to name their sides after they were unable to take a look at the pitch due to rain on Thursday.

Cummins said: "We're pretty sure [what the team will be] but we just want to have another look at the wicket, and we probably won't get the chance today, so we'll have a think late this arvo [afternoon] to work out the XI, or tomorrow morning,

"We've got a fair idea what we want to do, but don't want to make the call too early without fully knowing what the wicket is."

Australia were 1-0 winners in their last Test series in Pakistan back in 1998.

Babar to rack up the runs in Rawalpindi again?

Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for run machine Babar.

The prolific skipper has scored two centuries and a half-century in his four Tests at the venue, where he averages 110 in the longest format.

Babar's last reached three figures in a Test in Rawalpindi just over two years ago, making 143 versus Bangladesh.

 

Warner a thorn in Pakistan's side

David Warner has a staggering average of 108.4 against Pakistan in the longest format – the best of any player in any history to have been at the crease at least six times against them.

That average soared after the Australia opener made a magnificent 335 not out when the Pakistan attack toiled in the second Test at Adelaide Oval in 2019. Warner also scored a hundred in the first match of that series, which Australia won 2-0.

Warner will be eager to put the misery of bagging a pair in his last Test, against England in Hobart, behind him when he bats in Pakistan for the first time in a Test.

David Warner, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell will all miss Australia's white-ball upcoming tour of Pakistan after being left out of the 16-player squad.

Cricket Australia's National Selection Panel (NSP) on Tuesday confirmed the squad for three One-Day International and one T20 International in late March and early April.

All bar Starc were picked up last week in the IPL Auction with that competition due to start around a similar timeframe as the white-ball series. Warner, Cummins and Hazlewood were named in the previously announced Test squad for the series that begins in Rawalpindi on Friday next week.

Five other squad members have IPL deals; Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Ellis.

NSP chair George Bailey explained that the omissions were due to a variety of factors to "juggle", including the need to manage multi-format players.

"We have picked a talented and versatile squad with a number of challenges to juggle, including the tour structure of predominantly 50-over games, management of several multi-format players in the medium to long term; and our need to build experience and depth in preparation for two short form World Cups within the next 18 months," Bailey said.

"We're confident the squad can both compete successfully on this tour and continue our progress towards those crucial tournaments."

Australia are also due to tour Sri Lanka in June for two Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is, while they will defend their crown on home soil at the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup in October and November.

The tour marks Australia's first in Pakistan since 1998, with the white-ball players and staff to join the Test squad mid-tour.

Australia Test squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

David Warner and Mitchell Marsh have been left out of Australia's new-look squad to take on Sri Lanka in next month's T20 series.

Australia will also be without coach Justin Langer for the five-match series, with the 51-year-old being given a break after a busy period.

Assistant Andrew McDonald will act as head coach for the series, which runs from February 11 to 20.

While Australia will be without two of their T20 World Cup stars in Warner and Marsh, Josh Hazlewood is back involved after returning from injury.

Ben McDermott, who impressed during the Big Bash League campaign, is also included in the 16-man squad that was named on Tuesday.

"I don't think that I wasn't ready to play for Australia before, but I certainly feel ready now," said McDermott, who has already made 19 appearances for his country. 

"I feel like I'm at the top of my game. I've developed a lot of learnings through some experiences. 

"They haven't all been good ones, I won't shy away from that, but I've definitely learned from those experiences and hopefully I come back well."

The other members of Australia's successful World Cup campaign to miss out on selection are Mitchell Swepson, Daniel Sams, Dan Christian and Nathan Ellis

National selectors chair George Bailey said: "This squad will begin preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup defence at home later this year and includes several players who have an early chance to impress in these five matches against a quality opposition."

Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Josh Inglis, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

David Warner insists he relishes his Ashes battles with Stuart Broad despite being dismissed by the England bowler for the 13th time in Test cricket.

The Australia batter, who has twice come close to a century amid a dominant series for the hosts, was removed for 30 by the returning Broad on day one of the fourth Test.

Australia, who lead 3-0, closed on 126-3 at the SCG after only 46.5 overs of play were possible due to rain.

Broad had been left out of two of the first three matches and this week expressed his frustration over England's failure given he has "not really done anything" and missed the chance to play on favourable pitches.

Another veteran England bowler, James Anderson, who missed the first Test earlier in the series, also struck on Wednesday, removing Marcus Harris for 38.

And Warner suggested Australia are glad to be up against two of the world's top bowlers.

"I really enjoy giving you guys a good story, which is fantastic and it builds up the game," Warner said of his duels with Broad, who had him caught by Zak Crawley.

"Me and Broady love it when we're out there. It's good fun, good funny banter. 

"I tried to drive the ball too straight, that was my disappointment, but it's awesome to see Broady back out there.

"He's a world-class bowler. Him and Jimmy Anderson bowling at us is great. 

"Obviously, they would have been disappointed with some of these Test matches, not playing together, but that's for their selection panel. 

"It's great to come up against the world's best from England."

Mark Wood removed Marnus Labuschagne (28) before the close as Australia struggled to build on a strong start that had seen them reach 111-1.

It means Steve Smith (6 not out) and Usman Khawaja (4no) will be under pressure when they return to the crease on Thursday.

England are looking to avoid a 5-0 whitewash, a fate they have suffered twice in Australia since the turn of the century.

Amid their struggles, former England batsman Rob Key cannot comprehend why Broad has not been a regular.

He told Sky Sports: "You absolutely have bogey bowlers. I had about 18!

"For David Warner, it is Broad - which makes it even more ridiculous that Broad did not play that first Test in Brisbane. 

"Warner would have been sat there thinking, 'I could really do without facing this bloke'.

"All Warner's preparation would have been about how he was going to combat and defeat Broad and score runs against him – and then England don't pick him! This just shows how poor a decision that was.

"Now Broad has ended up playing on the two pitches so far with the least amount of movement and missed out on the two pitches that would have done a lot for him."

England struck twice late on a rain-affected opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG to get back into the contest on Wednesday.

Australia finished the first day on 126-3 with Steve Smith (6 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne (4 not out) at the crease after captain Pat Cummins won the delayed coin toss and elected to bat.

The hosts, who lead the series 3-0, had been firmly in control at 111-1 in the final session before veteran Jimmy Anderson (24-1 from 13 overs) and Mark Wood (31-1 from 10 overs) struck to dismiss opener Marcus Harris (38) and Test number one batsman Labuschagne (28) respectively.

Stuart Broad, back in the England side at the expense of Ollie Robinson, claimed the scalp of opener David Warner for 30 caught by Zak Crawley.

The opening session had been stop-start with rain delays seeing Australia go into lunch at 30-0, before adding another 26 runs until Broad found an edge from regular scalp Warner.

Rain fell shortly after Warner's dismissal leading to tea being taken after only 21.4 overs of play, but England got a crucial double strike in the final session before the weather intervened again.

Harris had been patient across more than three hours at the crease until Anderson drew an edge which Joe Root claimed at second slip.

England skipper Root introduced Mark Wood into the attack in the next over and dismissed Labuschagne caught behind by Jos Buttler.

Broad has the wood on Warner

Broad resumed his domination of Warner, dismissing him for the 13th time in Test cricket when he struck in the second session.

The right-arm fast bowler dismissed Warner seven times in the space of 104 balls during the 2019 Ashes in England, yet has been left out for two Tests in this series.

Sydney's rain woes

Only 46.5 overs were bowled on the first day at the SCG, which has been plagued by rain at recent Test matches at the venue.

In fact, Sydney has lost 26 days of Test cricket due to rain since 1877, which is significantly the most of any Australia venue and, while there was play, it was a frustrating opening day.

Veteran Australian opener David Warner has set his sights on one last crack at the Ashes on English soil in 2023 as he looks to bury his demons from 2019.

The 35-year-old left-handed batsman has defied his age with the third most runs in this Ashes series after being Player of the Series as Australia lifted last month's T20 World Cup.

Warner was part of losing Australian touring Ashes parties in 2013 and 2015 and was tormented by Stuart Broad in 2019 when he was dismissed by the seamer seven times in 10 knocks, managing only 95 runs across the series which finished 2-2 with the visitors retaining the urn.

"James Anderson sets the benchmark for older guys these days, we look up to him getting on in our days," Warner told reporters.

"Winning the Ashes here was obviously a big one. We still haven't beaten India in India, that would be nice to do.

"And England away, we had a drawn series but hopefully if I manage to get that opportunity, I might think about going back."

The 89-Test veteran has scored 7,551 runs with 24 centuries but battled during the 2019 Ashes in England.

"In terms of 2019, it was obviously in England so he [Broad] was able to get the ball to come back into us and away from us," Warner said.

"For me it was one of those tours where I didn’t back my game plan and I went too defensive, and I didn’t attack. That was my fault, and he bowled really well.

"Out here, they have obviously picked Ollie Robinson for a reason ... he’s averaging 21 with the ball, he’s had some success in England, he bowls a good line and length. I wouldn’t say I was surprised, they’ve done it before in Australia.

"They haven’t played both of them [Broad and James Anderson] too often here – you might see him [Broad] play next game, and maybe Jimmy misses it. I can’t worry what they’re doing, but from our perspective I think it’s great he [Broad] is not playing."

Warner also backed under-pressure opening partner Marcus Harris who scored a game-high 76 in the third Test at the MCG after managing only 38 runs in his previous four innings.

“His courage to keep fighting and working ways out to score runs when bowlers are bowling good lines and lengths, he fought it out really well and I’m really pleased for him," Warner said.

Australia coach Justin Langer has confirmed Marcus Harris will play the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG against England despite his poor run of form.

Harris has only managed 38 runs from four innings during the series and averages 22.19 during a 12-game Test career with only two half-centuries from 23 innings leading to pressure on his spot as David Warner's opening partner.

Australia's 2-0 Ashes lead has helped ease some pressure on Harris but Langer publicly threw his support behind him in a further boost for the embattled Victorian.

"He'll play in the Test, no worries about that," Langer told reporters on Thursday. "This is his home ground. He's played a lot at the MCG.

"He hasn't made the runs he'd like to so far, but he dominates domestic cricket so he knows that he knows how to play.

"He's a fantastic bloke around the squad ... And we know he's a very good player. For him and for us we're hoping he plays well and gets a good partnership with Davey Warner in this Boxing Day Test match."

Australia's opening partnerships in the four innings this Ashes have equated to an average of 17.75, with stands of 10, 16, four and 41.

Langer added: "We're really confident Marcus has got what it takes to be a successful Australian opening batsman and what we see in the nets, what we see in domestic cricket all adds up to what is potentially a very good Test career.

"One of the building blocks of a great team is the opening partnership and top three. We're determined to get that right."

Former Australia left-handed opener Langer endured similar struggles during his playing career but was backed by ex-captain Steve Waugh.

The 51-year-old coach, who worked with Harris during their time in WA, said it was important Harris felt "important to the team" to bring out the best in him.

"That's absolutely one of the most important things in life, knowing people have got your back," Langer said.

"My experience, when Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Mark Taylor or Allan Border said 'you're in the team', you feel like Superman. You feel like you're important to the team and Marcus Harris is important to the team."

Marnus Labuschagne is aiming to capitalise on England's missed opportunities after Australia closed on 221-2 after the opening day of the second Test in Adelaide.

David Warner (95) and Labuschagne (95 not out) produced gutsy performances after stand-in captain Steve Smith opted to bat on Thursday, with Australia already boasting a 1-0 series lead.

Smith – captaining for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 - was taking the reins due to Pat Cummins isolating after the fast bowler came into contact with a COVID-19 positive member of the public in a restaurant on Wednesday.

Smith's winning toss looked fruitful as Labuschagne batted with David Warner for most of the day in a 172-run second-wicket stand – the pair's sixth century partnership in Tests - no other duo has scored more runs since Australia's number three debuted in October 2018.

Warner subsequently fell in avoidable fashion, caught at cover by Stuart Broad – who earlier dismissed Marcus Harris – off the bowling of Ben Stokes in the final session of the first day-night Test.

Labuschagne was also fortunate to remain undefeated, given he was twice dropped by Jos Buttler – on 21 and 95 – the second of which by all means a regulation chance off James Anderson's bowling.

Aware of the opportunity ahead of him, Labuschagne now wants to cash in with Smith on England's lack of clinical catching when it mattered.

"That was massive for the team just getting through that period, me and Steve [Smith]," Labuschagne told reporters. "It sets us up really well to get a big first-innings score tomorrow.

"The last bit of play there I just wavered a bit where I played that shot and got dropped. I was a bit in disbelief, but it's my job to make sure I capitalise on that now.

"I gave them a chance there and I gave them a chance earlier, going down leg, so I've got to make sure that tomorrow I give away no chances."

Labuschagne reached 2,000 Test runs in just his 34th innings, with only four players – Michael Hussey, Herbert Sutcliffe, George Headley and Don Bradman – achieving the landmark in fewer outings.

But the right-hander was quick to credit his partner for much of the day Warner, who once again fell short with three figures in his sight.

"He [Warner] batted beautifully today, how he went about his innings and his patience," Labuschagne added. "Especially early, I think he went about 20 balls without scoring and then glimpses of the attacking David Warner we know.

"I feel bad for him missing out today but 95, he'd take that at the start of the day."

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