SPORT

Dave Warner Broke Records, But Matt Renshaw Broke Pakistan

Warner and Renshaw's centuries could not have been more different.

03/01/2017 12:13 PM AEDT | Updated 06/01/2017 2:21 PM AEDT
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Dude's the real deal.

The first day of the third Test between Australia and Pakistan at the SCG will be long remembered as the day Dave Warner made a Test century before lunch.

But it'll also go down in history as the day Matt Renshaw notched his first Test century. The 20-year-old opener reached three figures from 201 balls. Earlier, Dave Warner had scored his ton off just 78 deliveries.

Two more contrasting knocks you will not see. Renshaw is the guy who was just kind of there at the other end while Dave Warner was letting off fireworks. Then he was the guy who was just kind of there at the other end while his infinitely more seasoned and better-credentialled teammates Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith came and went.

And then he was the guy who was just kind of there as his score entered the 80s, the 90s, and finally triple figures -- a milestone he brought up appropriately enough not with a bludgeoned boundary, but a well-worked single.

Renshaw hit just eight boundaries in compiling his hundred. His whole innings, he had the air of a man in no particular hurry to get anywhere. A century, should he reach it, would be a place he stumbled upon rather than rushed towards in the furious manner of Dave Warner.

Indeed, he nearly stumbled to the ground on 91 when struck on the helmet. But a brief break, a sip of water and he was back on his way.

Much is made of Renshaw's similarity to Matt Hayden. He is, after all, a tall, left-handed Queenslander. But Hayden was always more aggressive early on in his innings. Renshaw is not that. He's content just to feel the ball on his bat, rather than to try and hit it out of the park. The guy's an old-fashioned player in a very, very young skin.

But like the quiet kid at school who nobody really notices, you sense he's going to blossom into something special. His innings on day one of this Test might just be a snapshot of an entire career to come.

After reaching triple figures, Renshaw pressed the accelerator pedal. In his 50 run partnership with Peter Handscomb, he contributed 35 runs while zooming into the 120s. When Renshaw had passed 150 and the partnership reached 100, Renshaw had contributed the bulk of the runs with 63.

This he did without taking risks. A mini flurry of boundaries came with controlled drives and cuts, not swipes. This was not the Big Bash. It was the big cash-in after a measured start. Renshaw even got a little fancy when he reverse-swept Yasir Shah for four.

The crowd gasped, partly in awe of a beautifully executed shot, and partly in surprise.

One thing that won't surprise anyone is that Renshaw will still be at the crease on Wednesday. And probably many future Wednesdays after that. Australia was 3-365 at stumps, with Renshaw 167 not out and Peter Handscomb unbeaten on 40.

EARLIER

He did it. David Warner has become just the sixth batsman in the history of Test cricket to score a Test century before the lunch break -- and the first man ever to do it in Australia. Wow.

Blink and you'd have missed it. Or more to the point, get stalled in the notorious Sydney traffic snarl outside the SCG and you'd have missed Warner sprint to 23 off 13 balls in the third over of the match, then 58 not out out at the first drinks break.

Just after midday, Warner had raced along to 80 not out. Ten minutes before the scheduled luncgh break at 12:30pm, he was sitting on 95 not out off just 78 balls. Surely he would make history now.

The crowd applauded when Warner's opening partner Matt Renshaw blocked the last ball of the 26th over, ensuring Warner, on 95, would get a chance to plunder the five required runs. He hit two with his first ball, taking him to 97. The next ball?

Wouldn't you know it, he hit the exact number of runs he needed, turning a two into a three with his trademark aggressive running, aided by a Pakistani misfield.

Even by Warner's standards, this was a breezy knock. The 30-year-old left hander took just 41 balls to reach 50, and showed no signs of slowing down thereafter. Chances? None. Entertainment? Plenty. Determination on the part of Warner to make a huge score at his home ground? Obvious to all.

Strange as it sounds, Warner's 18th Test century was not even his most belligerently aggressive. There have been times in his Test career when he has looked more like a Twenty20 cricketer in whites. On Tuesday at the SCG, it was all about precision rather than brutality. On several occasions, Warner hit fours within a few metres of fieldsmen n the boundary. It's almost as if he was taunting Pakistan.

Twenty minutes after lunch, the fun came to an unexpected end when Warner was dismissed for 113. His 95-ball innings ended when he feathered a catch though to wicket keeper Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling of Wahab Riaz.

At the other end, young opener Matt Renshaw -- who is very much in need of a big score to cement his Test spot ahead of the February tour of India -- continues to play the role of old school opener. He made just 10 runs in the first hour off 39 balls, and another 10 or so in the hour thereafter, Throughout, he has looked solid, unhurried and in his way, reassuring.

Renshaw was 37 not out when Warner departed. Ironically, he had faced more deliveries. He soon moved to 50, the second time the 20-year-old Queenslander has passed that milestone in his sixth Test innings.

New batsman Usman Khawaja was dropped shortly afterwards. Phew. He had moved along to 7 not out and Renshaw 60 not out, as Australia reached 1-182 at the drinks break, halfway through the first day's play.

Khawaja fell in the 49th over for 13, caught behind after slashing at a wide ball from Wahab Riaz. Australia was 2-203 at the time. They went to tea at 2-224 with Renshaw not out 83 and captain Steve Smith not out on 12. Smith fell soon afterwards for 24, caught behind off the bowling of leg spinner Yasir Shah.

This match is what sporting types like to call "a dead rubber", which always sounds vaguely rude or gross or both of the above. It means that the series has already been decided 2-0 and the match is being played because seats have been sold, summer plans set in place, and because Test cricket is this gloriously anachronistic creature where you keep playing even though the overall result has been decided.

That said, there are mini-narratives galore here which are worth following in their own right. Like Matt Renshaw, several Australians are playing for their Test spot. Spinner Steven O'Keefe has taken 10 wickets in his previous three Tests, and has a great chance to push for the second spinner's spot in India in this, his fourth Test.

Matt Wade has proven he can invent first names for Nathan Lyon which he repeats in a drawn out manner preceded by the word "Niice", but must still prove he can make runs at Test level. And of course, there's the debutant all-rounder Hilton Cartwright, about whom little is known by pretty much everyone except Mr and Mrs Cartwright and a handful of very serious cricket followers.

And of course, there was the Davy Warner mini-narrative, which soon became a huge story in its own right in the two hour session before the lunch break.

We'll update this throughout the day. Live scores are here.



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