The men in Baggy Greens came back strongly against Pakistan in the third session of day one of the first Test in Dubai to pick up three wickets before stumps.
The opening stand between Imam-ul-Haq (76 off 188 balls, seven fours, two sixes) and centurion Mohammad Hafeez (126 off 208 balls, 15 fours) had Pakistan cruising in the first two sessions with 199 runs on the board before tea. The Australians had to suffer most of the day as the two at the top dominated proceedings, posting an imposing 205-run partnership before Nathan Lyon put the smiles back on the Aussie faces by dismissing Imam-ul-Haq early in day’s the final session.
The bowlers were valiant in their efforts, even though they were facing down the barrel of a scorching Dubai sun and reaped little reward during most of the day. Lyon’s breakthrough inspired two future dismissals for the visiting team, as the recalled veteran Peter Siddle (who last played Test cricket nearly two years ago against South Africa) returned to the attack soon after tea to dismiss Hafeez with Pakistan on 222-2, double Nelson striking again. Ironically, the dismissed Hafeez had himself also just been recalled after a two-year hiatus.
Pakistan’s Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail looked set to dig themselves in to take Pakistan to stumps with a patient 22-run partnership off 104 balls (a strike rate of only 21.15 runs), before Ali – who ended on 18 off 80 balls, with two fours – holed out to mid-off to enable Jon Holland to get himself into the wickets column. Holland was grateful for the efforts of a tired Mitchell Starc, who completed the low catch after diving forward superbly, having initially misjudged it.
Nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas faced 13 deliveries before stumps, with Pakistan on 255-3 after 90 overs. Sohail (15) and Abbas (one) will resume battle on Monday morning.
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