The second and the last test match between Pakistan and Australia started earlier today at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Khan won the toss and decided to bat first. Pakistan handed fast bowler Mir Hamza and opener Fakhar Zaman a test debut while Australia named an unchanged playing XI that miraculously escaped a defeat in the first test.
The Centurian in the first test, Mohammad Hafeez was picked up for just 4 runs by Mitchell Starc after Marcus Labuschagne grabbed a stunner at short leg. Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali defended the fast bowling attack of the Australians pretty well. The introduction of Nathan Lyon proved to be a turning point in the innings. The New South Wales off-spinner picked up 4 wickets in just 6 deliveries to reduce Pakistan to 57-5 from 57-1. His victims included Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam. The last three batsmen of the abovementioned names were dismissed for a nought. Zaman survived a close run-out call in the 23rd over after he just made it to the crease. Zaman and captain Sarfraz were left with a lot to do. Both the batsmen started to soak in all the pressure from Nathan Lyon and left-arm spinner Jon Holland.
Sarfraz looked to be aggressive while Zaman played the role of an anchor. After a tensed initial period, the two batsmen found their feet at the crease. They helped Pakistan to reach to 100 runs without any further loss of wickets. Zaman soon reached to his first fifty in test cricket. Sarfraz was not to be left behind either. The busy wicket keeping batsman too completed his half-century in the due process. Their partnership frustrated the Aussie bowlers and Tim Paine. The 157 run stand was finally broken by Labuschagne whose straight delivery hit Zaman’s pads straight in front of the wickets. Zaman fell 6 runs short from his dream debut hundred as he was adjudged LBW. Bilal Asif couldn’t add much to the scoreboard as Labuschagne found a nick of his bat to hand Paine an easy catch behind the stumps.
A great innings was ended by a moment of madness from Sarfraz as he looked to hit Labuschagne out of the park. But all he could manage was a simple catch to Peter Siddle at mid-off. Sarfraz too was dismissed for 94 as Pakistan were reduced to 247-8. Yasir Shah was able to hit a few boundaries at the back end of the innings. He and Mohammad Abbas helped the hosts to reach a score of 282 before they were picked up by Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Starc respectively.
Australia had still 7 overs to play and see off the day. Usman Khawaja, whose Herculean effort helped Australia to save the first test, was sent back to the pavilion by Abbas for just 3 runs. Peter Siddle was sent as a night watchman by the visitors. But Abbas was successful in removing the night watchman on the very last delivery of the day. Australia are 20-2 after the close of first day’s play.
12 wickets on the first day have kept the match at balance. Both the sides will come into the second day of the test will renewed hopes. Australia know that a healthy lead would help them win a series in Asia after many years, while Sarfraz would hope that his spinners can wrap up the Aussie innings for a low score.
Day 1 Review:
Pakistan: 282-10(81 o.)
Sarfraz Khan: 94
Fakhar Zaman: 94
Nathan Lyon: 27-5-78-4
Australia: 20-2(7 o.)
Aaron Finch: 13*
Peter Siddle: 4
Mohammad Abbas: 4-2-9-2