Aussie batsmen get chance to impress | cricketnetwork.com

Aussie batsmen get chance to impress

09 October 2018
MATCH REPORT

Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja survive tricky session late on day two after the bowlers toiled to bowl Pakistan out for 482

Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's, First Test

PAK
AUS

Pakistan have batted themselves into a dominant position in the first Test against Australia, with the visitors doing just enough on the game's second day to stay within touching distance of their opponents in Dubai.

Haris Sohail (110 off 240 balls) struck his maiden Test century as he and Asad Shafiq put on an even 150 for the fifth wicket on a pitch showing few signs of life, the pair stifling the momentum Australia had built up in the final session of the first day.

An inspired passage of play from debutant Marnus Labuschagne, in which he followed a first Test wicket with a terrific run-out, and an unrelenting bowling effort from returning fast bowler Peter Siddle (3-58 from 29 overs, including 11 maidens) kept the Aussies in the hunt.

Pakistan lost 6-72 to fold for 482 late on day two, having looked on track for a much greater first-innings tally after Mohammad Hafeez (126) and Imam ul-Haq (76) had combined for a 205-run opening partnership on Sunday.

A new era for Australian cricket opens // Getty
A new era for Australian cricket opens // Getty

Nonetheless, Pakistan remain firmly in the box seat. Only twice in the post-war era have Australia won after conceding more than 482 in the first innings of a Test.

Openers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch, in his first Test innings, were largely untroubled through 13 overs as the Australians progressed to 0-30 at stumps, trailing by 452.

They could have gotten bat in hand sooner had Finch held on to a sharp catch at first slip off Labuschagne in the midst of his stirring afternoon burst, though the Victorian made up for it by running out skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, the man he'd dropped, with a direct hit a short while later.

Australia may have also considered themselves a little unfortunate after Sohail, on 51, survived an lbw review having not offered a shot while advancing down the wicket to Nathan Lyon (2-114 from 52 overs, a new personal best for the most overs bowled in a Test innings). Ball-tracking showed the delivery struck Sohail in line and would have hit the stumps but the sheer distance between the impact and the woodwork spared him.

DRS quirk comes to Sohail's aid

Having fought so hard to drag themselves back into the game late on day one, the Australians on Monday morning persevered with a 90-over old ball that increasingly resembled a chewed-up dog toy.

Siddle clean-bowled nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas to grab a deserved second wicket but the lack of a frontline batting scalp saw the game appear to drift out of Australia’s grasp in the opening two hours.

Siddle and Mitchell Starc (1-90 from 36.2 overs) bowled 29 dot balls on the trot but the introduction of the spinners and allrounder Mitch Marsh (0-38 off 10) saw Sohail and Shafiq gradually grow in stature.

Mohammad Abbas is bowled // Getty
Mohammad Abbas is bowled // Getty

The diminutive Shafiq used his feet expertly to first dance down and hit Lyon for six back over his head before pasting Holland for a glorious boundary over cover.

Finally, the Aussies took the second new ball after lunch though its effect was diminished considerably given the lifeless surface and the presence of two set batsmen.

As both passed half-centuries, Paine, firmly but politely, quizzed umpire Richard Illingworth on the finer points of the DRS ruling that spared the Sohail, who was ultimately saved by being three-and-a-half metres down the wicket and Illingworth's original not-out decision.

Tim Paine chats with the umpire // Getty
Tim Paine chats with the umpire // Getty

Sohail pushed on but the introduction of part-time leg-spinner Labuschagne proved an unlikely game-changer.

Thrown the ball for the last two overs before tea, he followed up a rank full toss that was swiftly dispatched by Shafiq with a looping top-spinner that grabbed the right-hander's outside edge and was snaffled by Paine.

The debutant wasn't done. In the first over back after the break, Labuschagne, at mid-wicket, scampered after a flick from Sohail and fired in an inch-perfect throw to Paine who did the rest to see the back of an unlucky Babar Azam for single digits.

Marnus Labuschagne celebates a Test wicket // Getty
Marnus Labuschagne celebates a Test wicket // Getty

Unaffected, Sohail bluntly blasted Holland back over his head for six (despite the presence of both a long-on and a long-off) as he followed Hafeez in reaching triple-digits, a well-earned milestone for the 29-year-old in his sixth Test.

Labuschagne meanwhile continued his rampant imposition on the Pakistani procession of runs, beating the outside edge of skipper Sarfraz Ahmed twice before finding it, only for Finch to snatch at the hot chance to his left and fumble it.

Haris Sohail celebrates a century // Getty
Haris Sohail celebrates a century // Getty

No.8 Bilal Asif, another debutant, coolly dispatched his second ball in Test cricket for a lofted boundary over wide long-on off Lyon.

But Pakistan's tail offered little further resistance after departure of Sohail (who edged behind off Lyon) and Finch's run-out of Sarfraz, with Asif handing a Siddle a third scalp and Yasir Shah giving Mitchell Starc a first following a prolonged review on whether an edge behind carried to Paine.

Pakistan's bowlers failed to find much more assistance out of the track than Australia had, as Finch and Khawaja ably negotiated four testing overs from ace leggie Yasir Shah before the close.

Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine (c & wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz

Qantas Tour of the UAE

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc

Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez

Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai

Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai

Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi