Bird puts Aus­tralia on top against Pak­istan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralian seamer Jackson Bird claimed two cru­cial wick­ets just be­fore rain stopped play on the open­ing day of the sec­ond Test against Pak­istan at the MCG yes­ter­day.

When tea was called early due to rain, the vis­i­tors were 142 for four with opener Azhar Ali on 66 and first Test cen­tu­rion Asad Shafiq on four, and that proved to be the stumps score as well.

The rain con­tin­ued af­ter tea and play was aban­doned with­out any more ac­tion. Af­ter win­ning the toss and choos­ing to bat the vis­i­tors made a cau­tious start but only Ali was able to build an in­nings of sub­stance. Bird (2-53) struck twice in quick suc­ces­sion just be­fore the rain set in to give the home team the as­cen­dancy, re­mov­ing ex­pe­ri­enced duo You­nis Khan (21) and Mis­bah-ul-Haq (11).

Khan, who had been given out lbw on three but suc­cess­fully ap­pealed, looked to be find­ing his touch when Bird sneaked a ball be­tween his bat and pad to bowl him.

Mis­bah got an in­side edge onto his pad and short leg Nic Maddin­son dived for­ward to take a fine catch which was con­firmed by the third um­pire.

How­ever, Pak­istan coach Mickey Arthur was com­fort­able with the de­ci­sion to bat first, say­ing the pitch would remain dif­fi­cult to bat on.

“I think the wicket was tough,” Arthur said. “It was re­ally tough to bat on for a pe­riod, if you got the ball in the right area there was just enough there for the bowlers. “We’re com­fort­able that will con­tinue, and when you win the toss and bat you al­ways ra­tio­nalise that de­ci­sion against what could hap­pen in the fourth in­nings.

“We think that in the fourth in­nings that it will be tough to score, his­tory says it is... we’ve still got a hell of a lot of work to do in get­ting some runs and then bowl­ing very well when we get first crack with the ball.”

Pak­istan’s openers Sami As­lam and Ali played and missed on oc­ca­sion but were able to ne­go­ti­ate the seam­ers, and it was not un­til the in­tro­duc­tion of off-spin­ner Nathan Lyon that the home side tasted suc­cess. As­lam had bat­ted with great cau­tion for nine from 41 balls but was sur­prised by some ex­tra bounce off the third ball from Lyon. It caught the glove and Aus­tralian cap­tain Steven Smith took the catch at first slip. Ali sur­vived a con­fi­dent lbw ap­peal from the bow­ing of Josh Ha­zle­wood when he was on six and was com­pre­hen­sively beaten by the next ball, but stead­ied to an­chor the in­nings.

But Ha­zle­wood (1-15) struck with the last ball of the morn­ing ses­sion, with Babar Azam (23) edg­ing to Smith in the slips.

Smith, who made some rare catch­ing er­rors in the first Test, went low to his right and just man­aged to cling onto the sharp chance to re­ward some ex­cel­lent bowl­ing from Ha­zle­wood.

Aus­tralia kept the same side which won the first Test of the three-match se­ries in Bris­bane by 39 runs, keep­ing faith in strug­gling rookie bats­man Maddin­son. Pak­istan made one change, re­plac­ing seamer Ra­hat Ali with So­hail Khan. — AFP

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