The Australians crumbled to 202 all out in the first innings after Bilal Asif’s six-for on debut put Pakistan in the commanding seat.
The Australians started proceedings well this morning with half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Test debutant Aaron Finch – who has played 93 ODI’s before getting his opportunity at Test level, second on the list of most ODI’s played before Test debut to Andrew Symonds’ 94. The opening pair continued their overnight partnership and batted throughout the first session on day three before Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas finally made a breakthrough by dismissing Finch (62 off 161 balls, five fours, one six) just after lunch to break the 142-run stand.
Finch’s wicket opened the floodgates for the Australians as Pakistan ripped through the rest of the batting order, dismissing the rest of the travelling batsman for the addition of just 60 runs to the total. Asif was at the forefront of the onslaught with his impressive off-spin as he dismissed the other opener Khawaja on 85 off 175 balls (including eight fours). Pakistan’s Test debutant was just getting started as he picked up three more wickets in a destructive, quickfire spell just before tea to reduce the Aussies from 142-1 to 171-5 in the space of 15 overs.
Pakistan’s pace bowler Abbas returned to the attack after tea and promptly dismissed Mitchell Marsh soon after the interval. He then cleaned up the rest of the tail alongside Asif – who also dismissed Aussie captain Tim Paine for just seven runs off 27 balls (one four) thanks to an easy looping catch at short leg by the safe hands of Imam-ul-Haq (bagging his third catch of the innings after Paine unsuccessfully reviewed the decision). They ripped through the Australian team in no time with Abbas finishing with figures of 4-29 in his 19 overs.
Asif was the bane of the Australian debutants as he dismissed both Tim Head (duck off nine balls) and Marnus Labuschagne (duck off two balls) before they could register a run for their country’s cause. His first outing with the ball for Pakistan in the Test arena returned figures of 6-36 in 21.3 overs, having already secured his five-for before picking up the last wicket of Nathan Lyon – the No 10 batsman caught at square leg attempting his go-to sweep shot.
Pakistan opted not to enforce the follow-on and instead decided to add to their 280-run lead with 17 overs left before the close of play on day three. They might yet rue that decision as they lost three wickets before stumps (including Lyon and Head getting their revenge on Asif, working together to dismiss the nightwatchman for a five-ball duck). They will resume on Wednesday with Imam (23 not out) being joined by a new partner at the crease.
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