Pakistan tightened the screw on the Australians in the second Test as they set the visitors a 538-run target to win after just three days of play.
Pakistan continued to stamp their dominance on Australia in Abu Dhabi as they scored 400-9 declared in their second innings to set Australia an improbable 538-run target for the final innings at the end of day three in the second Test.
Pakistan resumed this morning on 144-2 after having cheaply dismissed the Aussies for just 145 runs in response to their first innings total of 282 runs. With a commanding 281-run lead after the loss of just two wickets, Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail (17 off 63 balls, S/R 26.98) began the third day of the encounter at the crease but Sohail’s patience eventually left him and he was soon sent back to the pavilion by Nathan Lyon as the charging batsman missed a slower delivery before being stumped by captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
The fourth-wicket partnership between No 3 Azhar Ali and No 5 Asad Shafiq was short-lived as the two suffered through one of the worst, and probably most embarrassing, run outs in Test history. Ali edged the ball past gully towards the boundary before both Pakistani batsmen met for a chat in the middle of the pitch, just assuming the ball had gone for four. The ball had instead stopped just before the ropes and Mitchell Starc threw it to the alert keeper Paine. The Aussie captain duly whipped the bails off to dismiss Ali on 64 off 141 balls (four fours) in what can only be described as a rookie mistake from the Pakistani pair.
— SA Cricket magazine (@SACricketmag) October 18, 2018
Apart from that inexplicable brain-freeze, Pakistan were on top of proceedings throughout the day as the batsmen all accumulated useful runs on their way to posting 400-9 declared in their second batting innings.
Babar Azam made up for his two-ball duck in the first innings by sharing in the innings-topping 133-run partnership alongside captain Sarfraz Ahmed as the two had answers to any questions the Australian bowling attack posted during the second-session interval between drinks and tea.
Azam was unlucky to miss out on a maiden century after 15 Test matches as Mitchell Marsh trapped him dead in front on 99 off 171 balls (six fours, three sixes). Captain Sarfraz gave him permission to review the decision in an effort to save the young man from the unfortunate dismissal but replays showed the batsman trapped plumb in front.
Lyon returned to the attack to dismiss lower-order batsmen Bilal Asif and Yasir Shah before finishing with figures of 4-135 (including eight maidens) after an exhausting 43 overs of bowling in the innings. The off-spinner bowled relentlessly throughout the innings as he posed the most threat against the Pakistani batsmen. Peter Siddle’s 23 overs were a distant second-most overs in the innings by comparison.
At this point Pakistan were well over 500 runs in the lead with everyone looking at captain Sarfraz for a declaration with the innings going nowhere. It was the dismissal of the skipper on 81 off 123 balls – including five fours and one six – that eventually prompted the declaration less than two overs later on the 120-over mark.
Australia’s opening batsman and hero in the first Test, Usman Khawaja, suffered an injury during warm-up before the start of play on day three and spent the whole day off the field. Shaun Marsh was promoted to the opening spot for the final innings but only served as the first Test victim of debutant Mir Hamza as he watched his stumps castled on four runs off six deliveries.
Australia will resume on Friday on 47-1 with opener Aaron Finch (24 not out) and impromptu No 3 Travis Head (17 not out) at the crease. The two will look to set the foundations of the Australian fightback as they have to bat for two full days to rescue another historic draw against the sub-continental team.
Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images