Pakistan 282 (Fakhar Zaman 94, Sarfraz Ahmed 94; Nathan Lyon 4-78, Marnus Labuschagne 3-45) and 144-2 (Fakhar Zaman 66, Azhar Ali 54*)
Australia 145 ( Mohammad Abbas 5-33)
At the Close - Pakistan lead Australia by 281 runs with 8 wickets remaining
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat
Venue - Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
At the close of play on the second day, things have moved on at a considerable pace, with twenty-two wickets having fallen in just two days and virtually no chance of a draw. On a wicket that has not shown any signs of wear and tear, just yet, Pakistan is sitting comfortably on 144 for 2, with a sizeable lead of 281. The experienced Azhar Ali’s return to form is a welcome sight for the team, as he resumes his innings tomorrow on 54.
But one cannot stress enough the impact that Fakhar Zaman has had on this game, which is just two days old. His presence at the crease, has seen Pakistan’s run rate go up and push the opponents on the back foot. The left-hander, out to a stunning caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon for 66, off 83 balls with 7 fours, has it in him, to succeed in Test cricket, having already proven himself in the white-ball format. He became only the fourth Pakistan batsman, after Azhar Mahmood (1997-98), Yasir Hameed (2003-04) and Umar Akmal (2009-10), to reach fifty in both innings, on his Test debut, and yesterday, his first-innings dismissal for 94, made him the fourth unfortunate behind Abdul Kadir (1964-65), Taslim Arif (1979-80) and Asim Kamal (2003-04), to fall in their 90s. The 91-run second-wicket stand Fakhar shared with Azhar Ali today, has given his side a much firmer grip, in this contest.
Earlier in the morning, by picking up wickets at regular intervals, the Pakistan bowlers dominated the first session on Day 2. Australia resuming on 20-2 found Mohammad Abbas, too hot to handle, as the paceman found his groove straightaway and sent back left-handers, Shaun Marsh (3) and Travis Head (14) in his opening spell. In no time at all, half of Australia’s side was in pavilion with the total on 75 and Pakistan right on top. The presence of half a dozen close-in fielders really tested the Australian batting line-up, that had done so well to draw the opening Test in Dubai. A much more pro-active captaincy from Sarfraz Ahmed was evident, as the whole Pakistan team functioned so well in the field and quite rightly went for the kill. At Lunch time, the Australian score of 91 for 7 was depressing reading for their fans, all around the world.
Opening batsman, Aaron Finch, having stood up to the Pakistan bowling for over two hours, was sixth out for 39 to his name. The only other worthwhile contribution came from Mitchell Starc, who hit out merrily for his 34 off 45 balls with a four and two leg-side sixes off Yasir Shah. Australia were all out for 145 in the second session, which represented their fourth lowest first innings total in a Test in Asia, conceding a first innings lead of 137. By trapping Starc, leg before, Abbas finished with Glenn McGrath-like figures of 5-33 off 12.4 overs, his best in a Test. A miserly bowler in the classic mould, his 54 Test wickets have been claimed @ an average of 15.94. Remarkable stuff from the 28-year medium-pace bowler from Sialkot. Today he was well supported by off-spinner Bilal Asif, who claimed 3 for 23 in 10 overs.
Mir Hamza, a new addition to the long list of left-arm pacemen that Pakistan has introduced to international cricket, was wicket-less in his 9 overs in Australia’s first innings. Hamza has served his apprenticeship with u-19 and A teams and ,at 26, is at the peak of his career. If managed astutely, the Karachi-born paceman will be a real asset to Pakistan pace attack, for he has a phenomenal strike rate at first-class level, with 278 wickets @ 17.73 in just 56 games.
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Mir Hamza, Yasir Shah
Australia - Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine(c)(wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland
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