Pakistan are on the brink of securing an emphatic victory over Australia in the first Test match in Dubai, thanks to a terrific 12-ball spell from Mohammad Abbas.
Pakistan resumed the day on 45-3 with Imam-ul-Haq on 23 not out along with first-innings centurion Haris Sohail (39 off 81 balls, two fours, two sixes). The two batted well together, posting a 65-run partnership as they looked to take the game away from the Australians. Imam was unlucky to lose his wicket to Jon Holland just before his fifty, dismissed on 48 off 104 balls (four fours). Holland (20-3-83-3) was the leading wicket-taker for the Aussies, although he was rather expensive, going for 4.15 runs per over.
The home team lost six wickets before declaring on 181 runs, leaving Australia with a mammoth 461-run target in the final innings.
Abbas continued where he left off in the first innings, securing the rapid dismissals of the unlucky threesome of debutant opener Aaron Finch and brothers Shaun and Mitchell Marsh. All three wickets fell with the score on 87 – the dreaded Australian curse!
The loss of Finch for 49 off 99 balls (five fours) just short of a second half-century on his debut looked like it might signal a similar Australian collapse as in their first innings. Finch called on the third umpire for help – despite the Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed advising him not to – but the on-field umpire’s decision stood at the expense of an Australian review.
The Aussies then lost both Marsh brothers for ducks, with Abbas needing just six deliveries to dismiss them. Mitchell Marsh was the second of the brothers to lose his wicket in that destructive Abbas spell, with Ahmed using the review system to Pakistan’s advantage after the on-field umpire called not out on a dead-in-front lbw shout.
From a strong position at 87-0, Abbas had sent the Aussie change-room into a flat spin within 12 deliveries to leave them on 87-3.
Usman Khawaja lasted for the rest of the day alongside debutant Travis Head, who faced a nervous 13 balls before finally securing his first Test runs. Head looked a lot more comfortable at the crease the longer he spent time in the middle and accumulated 34 runs off 75 balls (including four fours) by stumps. Khawaja then saw his way to his second half-century in the match just before the day’s play came to a close.
The Australians will resume on Thursday on 136-3, still trailing by a massive 326 runs with seven wickets in hand.
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