Pakistan v Australia - Day 2

Before the Test series began Australia had talked about staying in the game as long as possible and produced the type of performance that they were looking for on the second day of the Dubai Test.

They had restricted Pakistan to just 56 runs in the final session on the first day while taking 3 wickets and the start of the second day started in the same vein.

Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc conceded only 7 runs during the first 11 overs and in the fifth a straight ball from Siddle was misjudged by Mohammad Abbas with the ball clattering into the top of off-stump as he was dismissed for his overnight score of 1

Mitchell Marsh had only bowled one over during the first day and it was his introduction that allowed the Pakistan batsmen some freedom.  He conceded 19 runs in the 5 overs that he bowled although he was unfortunate to see two boundaries go through the slip cordon.

It was enough to settle the batsmen with Haris Sohail following the example of the more experienced Asad Shafiq as they took their fifth wicket partnership to 69 runs at lunch as Pakistan progressed to 4-329.

It was after the interval that Australia took the new ball with Tim Paine hoping that Nathan Lyon would be able to use the harder ball’s extra bounce to their advantage.

The Pakistan batsmen settled into their work with the only scare being when Sohail came down the wicket to a delivery from Lyon that he padded away. Australia’s review showed that the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps but that Sohail had managed to get more than three metres down the track enough to rule that the ball tracking technology may not be entirely accurate.  The result was an umpire’s call in favour of Sohail.

Having received their baggy-greens yesterday, Marnus Labuschagne and Aaron Finch then produced key moments in the day.

Shortly before tea the fifth wicket partnership was worth 150 runs when Tim Paine called on the part-time leg spin of debutant Labuschagne who had bowled two overs on the opening day.  His fourth delivery drew Shafiq forward and there was just enough turn to find the outside edge and allow Paine to take a good catch. Shafiq had fallen for 80 and Labuschagne had his thirteenth first class wicket and first in Tests.

Three overs later, after the tea interval, Labuschagne produced another fine piece of cricket when he swooped at midwicket and threw over the stumps to allow Paine to runout Babar Azam for 4.

He almost grabbed a second wicket when he found the edge of Sarfraz Ahmed’s bat but Finch couldn't hold on to the chance to his left at first slip.

Nathan Lyon toiled away for 52 overs through the innings and he was rewarded with a second dismissal when Sohail on 110 feathered an edge through to Paine. Sohail had reached his maiden Test hundred a few overs earlier when he steered a delivery from Jon Holland to third man.

Finch then made up for his blemish at slip.  With Mitchell Starc bowling he was positioned at point and when Sarfraz, on 15, cut the ball he couldn’t make his ground before Finch's direct hit removed the bails.  It was another fine effort in the field and would have bolstered the Australian opener’s confidence.

The last two wickets were rewards for all of the efforts of the two pacemen.  Siddle bowled Bilal Asif for 12 off an inside edge as he finished with the impressive figures of 3-58 from 29 overs while Starc put in an even bigger workload.  He took the final wicket having Yasir Shah caught behind for 3 for a deserved success taking 1-90 from 36.2 overs of toil.

Finch, 13, and Usman Khawaja, 17, saw out the last hour of the day with few problems and, with the pitch still looking perfect for batting, Australia will be looking for some heavy scoring to take them into a first innings lead.