Labuschagne sent for scans as Perth pitch opens up

Pakistan's quicks landed a few body blows late on day three, but the Perth pitch has given the Australian bowlers plenty to look forward to

Australia were sweating on Marnus Labuschagne's fitness after a knock to his little finger saw him sent for scans on Saturday evening in Perth.  

Both Australia and Pakistan are expecting the final two days of the first NRMA Insurance Test to be coloured by more pitch volatility after both Labuschagne and Steve Smith required medical attention following nasty knocks while batting on Saturday.

Labuschagne's appears the more significant blow. He eventually continued batting after the team doctor and physiotherapist had a lengthy examination of his right pinky finger, struck by a Khurram Shahzad delivery that jagged violently towards him off a length.

Marnus Labuschagne receives treatment after being hit on the hand // Getty

But, having faced just seven more balls before being dismissed by the same bowler, he continued to receive treatment from the medicos before being sent for X-rays at the close of play.

"He was just with the doc and physio for the last hour just chatting through it, doing a few tests on the finger," paceman Josh Hazlewood told reporters at stumps with Australia leading by 300 runs.

"I daresay there might be a scan … he was pretty sore I think."

A Cricket Australia spokesperson confirmed a full diagnosis was expected in the morning.

Usman Khawaja, who was at the non-striker's end when Labuschagne was hit, admitted his concern.

"It didn't look pretty," Khawaja told Fox Cricket. "Marnus is a pretty tough character. When he takes his glove and starts to do that I get a bit worried, because he's a pretty tough guy."

Hazlewood labelled Smith "incredibly brave" for soldiering on after he too required treatment before stumps when Shaheen Shah Afridi landed a blow to his left arm.

Steve Smith after being hit on the forearm late on day three // Getty

But Smith insisted at stumps: "It’s all right. Bit of a bruise, but I’ll live."

With Australia already holding an imposing lead, signs of the pitch breaking up have encouraged the hosts' bowlers.

Hazlewood on Perth pitch, Lyon's role and Aussie plans

Groundstaff had hoped the drop-in wicket at the cavernous stadium would show more signs of wear and tear after it largely held together for their Test against West Indies last summer.

Their approach looks to have succeeded, with temperatures in the mid-thirties helping to bake out and open up small cracks.

Particular attention was being paid by both teams to an area on a six- to seven-metre length outside a right-hander's off stump when facing bowlers from the Justin Langer Stand end.

"Batting got really tough there at the end," said Hazlewood. "As the game goes along I think the cracks will come more into play, another hot day tomorrow I believe.

"I think it's probably going to be tougher to play the short ball than (it was) the first innings.

"Us and Pakistan just sort of ducked underneath and knew it was going over the top. I think with the up and down movement that could be a play in the second innings potentially.

"But I still think there's enough there on the front foot to take 10 wickets as well."

Australia v Pakistan | First Test | Day 3

Pakistan bowled with more control with the new ball on Saturday than they did on the opening day in Australia's first innings, but their batting coach Adam Hollioake was wary of the cracks forming.

"I was surprised to see those and it's small at the moment. But let's see if that opens up," said Hollioake.

"It's not very wide, probably a fourth-stump line, but if you come wide on the crease, then it probably can bring the stumps into play.

"It's a plate, and there's two sides of it … it's not as bad as some of the ones that we've seen in history at the WACA, it's not alarming, but it's something to aim at and it will be in the batsman's mind a little bit." 

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

First Test: December 14-18, Perth Stadium (1.20pm AEDT)

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (10.30am AEDT)

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

Australia squad: (first Test only) Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner

Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi