Australia's top order did not function particularly well at the Gabba and a neck injury to Chris Lynn meant further instability for the hosts. David Warner walked out accompanied by Usman Khawaja, his third partner in as many ODIs after Aaron Finch was dropped and Travis Head then demoted back to the middle order. For Khawaja, this was a first chance in canary yellow since an ODI against Ireland that served as prelude to the South Africa limited-overs series in October, and his cramped edge from the bowling of Junaid Khan meant that the Australians ended the day none the wiser as to the identity of their best opening combination.
The straight ball
A slowish MCG surface rewarded spin bowlers who maintained a disciplined line while mixing up their pace. Fortunately for Pakistan's stand-in captain Mohammad Hafeez, he had three such operators, including himself, and all were able to capitalise on Australian imprecision when trying to force the pace. Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith and Matthew Wade were all bowled by deliveries that did not deviate off the pitch. The last of those was uncannily similar to the way so many Australian batsmen have been dismissed in Asia in recent times, as Wade played for turn from Shoaib Malik and lost middle stump.
The phantom edge
Junaid's first ball to Pat Cummins was swift and well directed, cramping Australia's No. 10 for room as he tried to force through the off side. The ball went through to Mohammad Rizwan and the Pakistanis went up in unison to appeal, but umpire Chris Gaffaney did not deduce an edge. Pakistan's one referral had already gone earlier in the innings, and Wade had also evaded a caught-behind decision at the other end by reviewing to find the ball had brushed thigh rather than bat. This time the HotSpot and Snicko showed a clear edge, its evidence lost in the din of a noisy crowd and a breezy afternoon.
The spin thrift
Where Pakistan used 24 overs of spin, the hosts offered up only one, delivered by Travis Head in the 14th of the chase, before the match was effectively decided. Australia had indicated their views of the pitch by leaving out the one specialist spin bowler in their squad, Adam Zampa, but while the visitors were able to utilise slow bowlers, the way Head's first over was treated dissuaded Smith from delving any further. Hafeez hammered a pair of boundaries through backward square leg and down the ground, effectively neutering a bowler who had cost just 28 from 10 overs in Brisbane.