Saturday, 27 November 2021

Pakistan show fight at last but defeat looms on day four in first Test

Jackson Bird appeals against Azhar Ali, Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day, December 17, 2016

Pakistan showed glimpses of fight as they set about chasing 490 for victory, which would more than double the previous best mark of 7-236 set when Australia lost seven wickets in pursuit of 236 against the West Indies. That was in 1951. A storm late on Saturday night broke apart before it reached the ground but there are more predicted for Sunday. Even a tropical cyclone would be unlikely to save them from defeat despite some glimpses of fight under the testing glare of the twilight. Australian captain Stephen Smith waited until the dreaded witching hour to send in the tourists after declaring during the dinner break at 5-202. Smith continued his brilliant form with 63 from 70 balls while Usman Khawaja rebounded from a first-innings blip with 74. Smith always intended to put Pakistan in just as the light faded. This was the moment they dug themselves into a black hole in the first innings and the Australian skipper was hoping his quicks could conjure similar carnage.

This time, Pakistan stiffened their resolve after their previous effort was lambasted by their press and punditry. Sami Aslam, who wore as many as he hit in the first innings, and Azhar Ali dug in gamely to steer their side to 0-31 before Sami fell for 15, a victim of Mitchell Starc. Nathan Lyon struck again before stumps when he had Babar Azam edging to Smith in the slips for 14, leaving Azhar (41 not out) and Younus Khan (0 not out) to resume the fight at 2-70 under predicted stormy skies on Sunday afternoon. “It would have been nice to have one or two more but I thought we worked hard today. We’re in a good position still, hopefully we can come out tomorrow and hit good areas and take more wickets,” Smith said. Khawaja said Australia had no intention of making Pakistan bat again, saying they had always planned to build an unsurpassable total and give their key quicks ample rest before resuming as the lights flickered into life.

“We just wanted to have a crack at them at night time, have a big lead and give our bowlers a rest. It’s tough for the bowlers to back up again. We’ve got two days and they need to chase 450. You always want to be in this position,” he said. Khawaja said the Australia players had delighted in Lyon’s elevation to cult hero on account of Matthew Wade’s relentless cries of ‘Nice Garry!’ from behind the wicket. The tweaker has been embraced by the Gabba crowd, with Khawaja – an import from NSW himself – fearful of being evicted as one of the adopted sons north of the border. “The crowd is on his side…. I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s been playing it up… they’re calling him ‘Queensland’s new favourite son’. I’ve been booted out,” Khawaja said. “We love it. It’s good fun. It’s random… social media is funny how things get blown out of proportion. He’s a new cult hero.” Earlier, Pakistan located a pulse as they went from 8-67 to scrap their way to be 142 all out, largely thanks to a rearguard 59 from wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and 21 from fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who hung around for 69 deliveries as Sarfraz went about his work. With quick runs the order of the day after Smith elected not to enforce the follow-on, Matt Renshaw suffered his first real disappointment of his fledgling Test career when he fell for six, while David Warner continued to struggle to turn his white-ball form into red-ball returns.

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