Fight­ing Pak­istan re­sist Aus­tralia’s vic­tory drive

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Asad Shafiq scored a thrilling cen­tury as Pak­istan put up a spir­ited re­sis­tance to Aus­tralia yes­ter­day, frus­trat­ing the hosts’ at­tempts to wrap up the first Test with a day to spare. Shafiq dashed for three runs off a cut shot in the fi­nal over of the fourth day to reach his 10th Test cen­tury off 140 balls in the daynight match at the Gabba.

The tourists, who have lost their last nine Tests in Aus­tralia, re­fused to buckle de­spite the loss of key bats­men You­nis Khan, Azhar Ali and skip­per Mis­bah-ul-Haq.

At the close on a storm-hit day, with Shafiq lead­ing the way, Pak­istan had just two wick­ets left and were 382 for eight-the high­est fourth in­nings in a Test at the Gabba.

They trail the home side by 107 head­ing into to­day’s fi­nal day. “Asad Shafiq was strug­gling and he came back with a bang,” Azhar said. “We re­ally en­joyed his in­nings and the way he bat­ted, it was a re­ally spe­cial knock, and also spe­cial how Mo­ham­mad Amir and Wa­hab Riaz bat­ted as well. “It will help to grow more con­fi­dence, go­ing through the se­ries.”

Steve Smith gave Shafiq a life on 72, drop­ping a clear two-handed chance at sec­ond slip off Mitchell Starc’s bowl­ing when three reg­u­la­tion overs were left in the day. Play was ex­tended by an ex­tra half-hour to try to se­cure a re­sult but the tourists held firm.

Shafiq took the game to Aus­tralia and led the re­sis­tance with a bel­liger­ent knock in­clud­ing 10 fours and a six, spiced with some lively run­ning be­tween wick­ets.

Mo­ham­mad Amir, in the first year of his re­turn to in­ter­na­tional cricket fol­low­ing a fiveyear ban for spot-fix­ing, hit his high­est Test score in a stub­born 92-run sev­enth-wicket part­ner­ship with Shafiq.

Amir’s pre­vi­ous best was 39 not out against Eng­land at The Oval in Au­gust, but he fell late in the ses­sion for 48 off 63 balls with five fours.

The Aus­tralian bowlers en­dured a long grind, with a three-hour fi­nal ses­sion end­ing only at 10:09 pm, af­ter a fierce storm lashed the ground just be­fore tea. The bowlers, who dec­i­mated Pak­istan by tak­ing seven wick­ets for 24 in the first in­nings, were frus­trated by a lack of as­sis­tance from the pink ball un­der lights in the sec­ond. “It prob­a­bly didn’t go to plan. No doubt we wanted to fin­ish off the game to­day. Hats off to Pak­istan, they bat­ted par­tic­u­larly well,” said Aus­tralia bowl­ing coach David Saker.

“We’re still in a very good strong po­si­tion. I’d pre­fer to be in our po­si­tion than theirs. We’ve got to come back and get two quick wick­ets to­mor­row.”

Aus­tralia are de­fend­ing an un­beaten run of 27 Tests at the Gabba. Their last de­feat here was in 1988 to the West Indies.

The hosts went into the fi­nal night ses­sion need­ing five wick­ets for vic­tory and re­moved the first-in­nings top-scorer Sar­fraz Ahmed for 24. Starc scat­tered his stumps with an in­swinger in the 88th over, his third wicket, and Jack­son Bird had Amir caught be­hind in the 107th over. But num­ber nine Wa­hab Riaz hit a blaz­ing 30 off 56 balls with two fours and two sixes.

You­nis Khan had ear­lier also kept the bowlers at bay but was out to a rash shot 30 min­utes be­fore the din­ner break. The 112-Test cam­paigner fell to an ill-judged re­verse sweep off spin­ner Nathan Lyon, the ball bal­loon­ing off the back of his bat for Smith to take an easy catch. Starc per­sisted with a short­pitched plan af­ter a 90-minute storm de­lay at tea. It fi­nally paid off when Azhar Ali tried to flick a ris­ing ball down to fine leg, only to edge to Matthew Wade.

Azhar faced 179 balls for his 71 and put on 91 for the third wicket with You­nis. You­nis, out for a first-ball duck in the first in­nings, took 20 balls to get off the mark with a streaky shot through the slips cor­don to the bound­ary.

— AFP

BRIS­BANE: Pak­istan’s bats­man Asad Shafiq (R) plays a shot as Aus­tralia’s wick­et­keeper Mathew Wade (L) looks on dur­ing the fourth day of the day-night cricket Test match be­tween Aus­tralia and Pak­istan in Bris­bane yes­ter­day.

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