Australia openers, David Warner and Chris Rogers rode their luck to help their team finish on a respectable 113-0 after Pakistan set a huge first innings total of 454, courtesy of a blistering Test ton by Sarfaraz Ahmed at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. Trailing by 341 runs, Warner was undefeated on a fluent 77-ball 75 studded with a six and seven fours while Rogers was not out on 31 at the end of Day 2 of the first Test.
Earlier, Pakistan, who resumed the day on 219-4 ended up with a total of 454 with Sarfraz hitting a quick-fire 109 to register the fourth-fastest Test century by a Pakistani batsman. Asad Shafiq contributed 89 runs while the 6th wicket pair of Sarfraz and Asad put on 125 runs, the second century stand in Pakistan’s innings. Mitchell Johnson finished with figures of 3/39 from his 31 overs.
Pakistan lead by 189 runs
David Warner and Chris Rogers continued in a solid fashion on Day 3 as the added more to their partnership. They dealt mostly in singles and twos and were looking set for a big partnership. However, their partnership, worth 128 runs, came to an end in the 38th over when Rogers fell to Rahat Ali. Rogers attempted an ambitious cut but the ball was too close to the body and he ended up getting an inside edge onto the stumps to depart on 38.
Alex Doolan, who came in at number three, took 16 deliveries before getting off the mark. Meanwhile, David Warner continued in a steady manner, without taking any risks, as he entered the 90s. In fact, there were no boundaries scored in the first hour’s play with the Australians preferring to play the patient game.
Zulfiqar Babar struck a crucial breakthrough in the 53rd over, getting rid of the Australian skipper for 2. Michael Clarke, looked to block a delivery that was angled in, but could only manage an inside edge to hand Azhar Ali a simple catch at forward short-leg.
Warner was joined by Steven Smith and they started building a partnership to steady Australia. Smith went about his business like he always does, keeping himself busy with singles and twos with the occasional boundary. Warner, who was a bit watchful on Day 3, continued in the same manner before hitting the first six of the day off Mohammad Hafeez in the 62nd over. Warner also managed back-to-back boundaries off Hafeez in his next over to power Australia past 200.
Yasir Shah was troubling Smith with his leg-spin before getting the reward for his excellent work minutes before lunch. Smith, who failed to keep a cut shot down, was caught by Hafeez at point, giving Shah his maiden Test wicket. Australia went to lunch at 207/4, trailing by 247 runs with Warner unbeaten on 133.
It was Pakistan’s session as they made the Australians work hard for the runs while chipping away at regular intervals to put the visitors on the back-foot. Warner registered a fine hundred to help Australia forward, but they kept losing wickets regularly at the other end. Pakistan began the day with Rahat and Hafeez building up the pressure and that paid dividends with Rogers’ wicket. Doolan got himself into a shell and then ran himself out. Clarke fell cheaply and just before lunch, Smith who was batting well, handed Shah his first Test wicket.
Yasir, who bowled the first over after lunch, picked up the important wicket of Warner, dismissing him for 133. The left-handed tried to play on the up to a delivery that spun back in sharply but missed it completely and was bowled.
While the spinners bowled in tandem and applied more pressure on the Australian batsmen, Brad Haddin decided to ease some of it – he cleared the mid-wicket boundary in the 73rd over off Shah before scoring back-to-back fours off the leg-spinner in the same over. Mitchell Marsh gave Haddin good support as they helped Australia recover.
The second new ball was taken as soon as it was available and Pakistan managed to strike immediately. Haddin, who went hard at a delivery that was pitched outside-off, dragged it on the the stumps to give Imran Khan his maiden Test scalp. Australia were in trouble, reduced to 249/6.
Babar picked up his second wicket in the 87th over by dismissing Marsh for 27. The right-handed batsman lunged forward to defend but missed the ball and was struck in front. Umpire Erasmus turned down the appeal but Pakistan reviewed successfully and the batsman had to head back. In the following over, Siddle missed a sweep and was struck on the pads. Umpire Kettleborough gave Siddle out, the tail-ender opted for the DRS but Australia ended up losing a review. In the following over, Steve O’Keefe survived a leg-before shout while Pakistan lost a review. Australia went to tea at 282/8, still trailing by 172.
Australia could only manage 85 run in the second session while they again lost four wickets. The session started with the dismissal of centurion Warner in the first over after lunch, bowled by Yasir Shah. The new ball was taken soon after and Pakistan struck immediately as Imran Khan dismissed Haddin. Soon, Marsh and Siddle fell leg-before in quick succession to deepen the misery for the visitors.
Hafeez, while trying to stop a ball off his own bowling in the 96th over, tripped after stepping on Johnson’s shoes. He was struggling with his ankle and decided to leave the field.
Johnson and Steve O’Keefe were involved in a defiant stand as they kept the Pakistani bowlers at bay. Johnson hit the timely boundaries while O’Keefe was happy playing a more sedate role. They took Australia close to the 300-run mark before the visitors lost their ninth wicket when Johnson fell to Rahat Ali in the 103rd over. The left-handed batsman went for the pull but failed to keep it down and found Shan Masood at deep backward square-leg. Nathan Lyon edged the next delivery to the third-man boundary to take the total past 300.
Yasir Shah dismissed O’Keefe in the 104th over to bowl out Australia for 303. O’Keefe, who went for a big hit, got a top edge and Misbah-ul-Haq help on to the ball safely. Shah finished with figures of 3/66 while Pakistan took a 151-run lead.
While Warner scored a fine hundred, none of the other Australian batsmen could get going. The visitors kept losing wickets at regular intervals – 4 in the first session, 4 in the second and 2 in the final one to end up with 303. Johnson showed some fight down the order, keeping the bowlers at bay for a while, which helped the visitors go past the 300-run mark. Debutant, Yasir Shah was the pick of the bowlers while the rest of the bowlers also chipped in.
Azhar Ali came out to open as Hafeez sustained an ankle injury earlier. He and Ahmed Shehzad got Pakistan off to a steady start, gathering the runs at a good rate. Azhar scored boundaries at a regular rate while Shehzad, who was initially watchful, also joined in as they extended the lead towards the 200-mark. Lights deteriorated and the umpires decided to call it stumps with two more overs left for the day. Pakistan openers remained unbeaten to take the total to 38/0, leading by 189.
Pakistan would have been very happy with how things panned out on Day 3. They have extended their lead to 189 to put Australia on the back foot. Michael Clarke tried different options in the little time that was available but none of the bowlers could separate the opening pair. The visitors will be hoping to bounce back on Day 4 and put the pressure on Pakistan while the ‘hosts’ will be eager to extend the lead somewhere close to the 350-mark as quickly as possible and possibly declare their innings.