Captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Test debutant Fakhar Zaman rescued Pakistan’s innings with a resilient 147-run partnership after the home team were reduced to 57-5 before lunch.
Pakistan had a disastrous start to their innings in the second Test against Australia in Abu Dhabi after Nathan Lyon (27-5-78-4) took four wickets within 12 deliveries to reduce the home side to 57-5 in less than 22 overs. Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez couldn’t replicate his heroics from the first Test as he fell to an incredibly lucky catch by Marnus Labuschagne at short-leg off a swinging Mitchell Starc delivery in the third over.
Lyon then ripped through the Pakistani batsmen, accounting for the wicket of Azhar Ali on 15 runs, before dismissing first-Test centurion Haris Sohail, the experienced Asad Shafiq and the ever-dangerous Babar Azam before they could register a run.
It was the sixth-wicket partnership between opening batsman Fakhar Zaman and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed that rescued the home side as the two put together a brilliant 147-run stand to consolidate the innings. Fakhar Zaman – on Test debut, replacing the injured Imam-ul-Haq – was unlucky to miss out on a maiden century as Labuschagne performed well with the ball once more to break the partnership and dismiss the opener for 94 off 198 balls (eight fours, one six) at the stroke of tea.
Labuschagne was on a roll as he quickly dismissed No 8 Bilal Asif (12 off 26 balls, one four) before accounting for Sarfraz’s wicket as the tired-looking Pakistani captain inexplicably looked to launch the part-time leg-spinner over the top but only managed to slice it to Peter Siddle who juggled the ball before securing the catch at cover. The Pakistan captain played a brilliant innings to finish with 94 off 129 balls (including seven fours) but he will be disappointed to have lost his wicket before reaching his century.
Yasir Shah added a quickfire 28 runs (34 balls, 3×4, 1×6) at the tail-end of the innings to take Pakistan to 282 before being dismissed in the 81st over.
Usman Khawaja (three off 13 balls) couldn’t repeat the performance that earned him the Player of the Match accolade in Dubai as he lost his wicket late in the day to Mohammad Abbas, who strangled the left-handed opener down leg-side with Sarfraz taking a brilliant one-handed catch diving low to his right.
The dismissal takes Abbas to 50 Test wickets for Pakistan, needing just 10 matches to reach the milestone and joining the elite list of Waqar Younis, Mohammad Asif and Shabbir Ahmed as the joint-fastest Pakistani pace bowler to the feat (leg-spinner Yasir Shah tops the overall Pakistan bowlers list at 9 matches).
The day ended with drama as the prolific Abbas trapped nightwatchman Peter Siddle (4 off 10 balls) plumb in front with the final delivery of the day. Shockingly, the umpire judged it not out on the field but Pakistan used DRS to reverse the obvious error.
On Wednesday the Australians will resume their innings on 20-2 after seven overs with Aaron Finch at the crease alongside likely new-partner Shaun Marsh with the Aussie middle-order facing plenty of pressure to get some runs.
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