Haris Sohail’s maiden Test ton sets Australia uphill task

Shafiq made 80 as Pakistan stretched their first innings total to 482


Australia, replying to Pakistan’s first innings total of 482, finished the second day of the first Test on 30-0 in Dubai on Monday.
Openers Usman Khawaja (17) and Aaron Finch (13) safely negotiated the final 13 overs as Australia still trail Pakistan by 452 runs with all ten wickets intact. After the wobbles in the final session on the first day, Haris Sohail and Asad Shafi q put on a masterclass in gritty Test-match batting, as Pakistan ground
their way to 482 and pushed the game further out of Australia’s reach. Just as importantly, they kept the hapless visitors out on the field for 164.2 overs in the blazing Dubai heat.

Along the way, Haris completed his maiden Test match hundred, while Shafi q fell 20 short. The partnership between the two stood at exactly 150 when Marnus Labuschagne – whose menace suggested Australia have missed a trick by not picking a specialist legspinner took Shafi q’s outside edge. By then the fifth-wicket pair had done enough to kill of the momentum Australia had built up at the tail end of the first day.

As on the first day, the wickets came after tea, though Pakistan’s charitable mood did contribute to them. Babar
Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed both fell cheaply, not just by way of runs scored but also in the manner of their dismissals. On a pitch where their predecessors ground Australia into the dirt, both were run out, finally allowing the bowlers a crack at the tail, and the psychological victory – however spurious – of keeping Pakistan this side of 500. Sandwiched between those two dismissals was the wicket of Haris after a phenomenal innings from a player who is yet to properly nail down a spot in the Test side. Nathan Lyon was his conqueror, the left-hander falling in almost the same way Imam-ul-Haq had to Lyon, looking to cut but managing only a tickle
of the outside edge through to the keeper.

Australia made short work of the tail, but still had the small matter of getting through 13 overs in fading light against Mohammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz and, most crucially, Yasir Shah. Predictably, it was the legspinner who looked likeliest to strike, with debutant Aaron Finch fortunate to survive a marginal lbw call early on. Had the umpire given him out, the call would have stood. Khawaja, though, looked more steady than he
historically has in Asia, and will look to kick on tomorrow on what is still a pitch