Labuschagne returns to the nets after blow on the finger

Australia No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne had looked to have avoided serious injury after copping a blow to his finger during a withering short-ball assault from Pakistan’s quicks late on day three of the first Test in Perth.

During the sixth over of Australia’s second innings, Labuschagne was whacked on the little finger of his right hand from a rearing delivery by debutant quick Khurram Shahzad that jumped off a length. He sought medical attention immediately, but resumed batting after several minutes.

A seemingly rattled Labuschagne fell shortly afterwards for 2 in an ungainly dismissal when he top-edged a pull shot that was caught by wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed. Labuschagne was captured during the broadcast receiving treatment from medical staff in Australia’s team room.

Labuschagne, who has played 39 Tests in a row since becoming a permanent member of the team during the 2019 Ashes series, went for a scan after play but was back in the nets on Sunday morning.

“He was with the doc and physio for the last hour just chatting through it and doing a few tests on the finger…dare say he might be pretty sore,” Australia quick Josh Hazlewood told reporters after the third day’s play.

If Australia do need a replacement batter during the series, the door would likely open for allrounder Cameron Green to return.

Australia’s top order faced a thorough examination on an Optus Stadium surface that had more bite as the day wore on. Steven Smith copped several blows on his arm during a short-ball barrage from spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Smith needed medical attention just before the close of play after an Afridi delivery whacked into his forearm. But Smith and opener Usman Khawaja survived as Australia reached stumps at 84 for 2 with a lead of 300 runs.

“He’s incredibly brave,” Hazlewood said of Smith. “I think it’s probably going to be tougher to play the short ball than in the first innings.

“Batting looked really tough there in the end. I think as the game goes along the cracks will come more into play. It’s another hot day tomorrow.”

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