It’s day two of the First Test between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai and day one belonged completely to the hosts. Pakistan have lost nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas early on day two with Peter Siddle ending the pacer’s 26-ball stay at the crease. Overnight batsman Haris Sohail has been joined by Asad Shafiq at the crease and the pair have taken Pakistan to 329-4 at lunch.
The Aussie opted to take the second new ball immediately after lunch as both batsmen brought up their respective half-centuries. The pair’s 150-run stand for the fifth wicket was broken ultimately by Marnus Labuschagne who dismissed Shafiq f0r 80 in the second session. The hosts were batting at 417-5 when tea was taken on day two.
Post tea, Babar Azam was run-out for just four after attempting a tight single. Sohail though, continued to march on and brought up a maiden Test hundred. The left-hander’s 110-run innings was ended by Nathan Lyon in the final session. The hosts lost skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (15) to a run-out too as they slumped to 470-8. Paine’s men then wrapped up the Pakistan innings on 482 runs with Siddle standing out with a three-wicket haul.
In reply, Australia’s openers Aaron Finch and Labuschagne survived a tricky period of 13 overs without any loss before stumps were drawn on day two.
Thanks to a stunning 126 from comeback king Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan reached 255 at the end of the day’s play for the lost of just three wickets.
Will the Aussie bowlers be able to pick up some wickets today?
Carrying on from their overnight score of 255-3, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men added 227 runs more on Monday as Australia’s bowlers were put through the wringer in the wilting heat of Dubai.
Haris Sohail was the standout batsman for Pakistan on day two with the left-hander registering his maiden Test ton before being dismissed. Here, we take a closer look at the 29-year-old’s first international hundred for his country.
RUNS SCORED: 110
BALLS FACED: 240
Sohail arrived at the crease late on day one after openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq had put a solid foundation for Pakistan with a 205-run stand. Carrying on the good work done by the openers, the left-hander saw Mohammad Abbas depart early on day two before forging a mammoth 150-run stand for the fifth wicket along with Asad Shafiq. The southpaw was circumspect in the early part of his innings and took 149 deliveries to get to his half-century. He stepped up a gear following that milestone and brought up a maiden Test hundred off 223 balls. He ultimately fell for 110 after feathering an edge to Tim Paine while attempting to cut a Nathan Lyon delivery.
Perseverance and concentration. Sohail was a picture of concentration at the crease throughout his stay and was determined not to throw his wicket away on a pitch which favoured batsmen a great deal. He took his time to get settled in the innings and survived a couple of shaky moments including a lbw review by Lyon which was deemed not out by the third umpire. However, once set, he thrived against the Aussie attack, especially the spinners Lyon and Jon Holland. He accelerated in the second half of his innings to take the attack to Australia.
Well played Haris Sohail! Played the spinners particularly well #PakVAus— zainab abbas (@ZAbbasOfficial) October 8, 2018
While he was generally unflappable at the crease, there were a few lapses in concentration in his 240-ball stay. Early on day two, he edged a Peter Siddle delivery that luckily flew in the gap between slips and gully. Later, he advanced down the pitch to Lyon before deciding to not offer a shot. Sohail was struck on the pads with ball-tracking showing that the ball would crash onto his stumps. However, Australia’s review was turned down by the umpire as the ‘three-metre’ rule came to the aid of the Pakistan batsman.
VERDICT – 8/10
Sohail has always been a gifted batsman and big things were expected from him when made his limited-overs debut for Pakistan in 2013. However, a serious knee-injury and loss of form robbed him of a consistent run out in international cricket with his Test debut coming as late as 2017. A career which promised much was looking like fading into oblivion but just like Hafeez’s ton on Sunday, Sohail’s maiden Test hundred could not have come at a better time for the top-order batsman.
It is a maiden international ton which has taken a long time coming but it is one which should do Sohail’s confidence a world of good and help him stake a permanent claim to a berth in Pakistan’s Test setup. A conventional batsman with orthodox technique, Sohail’s game has always been more suited to red-ball cricket and him finding form could solve a lot of Pakistan’s batting puzzles in the Test arena.
His career has been plagued by injuries and at one point it looked like he may have to retire due to a knee problem. He's worked so hard to regain fitness & it's great to see Haris Sohail finally score a century in international cricket #PAKvAUS— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) October 8, 2018
Kohli is currently ranked as the No1 batsman in both the ODI and the Test formats and has continued his stellar form of late into 2018. The India skipper recently notched up his 24th ton in the first Test against the West Indies to move past Australia’s Steve Smith who is currently serving an international ban.
While speaking to Telegraph India, Arthur praised Kohli’s dedication to his craft and his desire to improve himself constantly.
“Virat’s hunger and desire to be the best sets him apart from the rest. Everything Virat does is almost fanatical. The way he lives his life, trains and plays his cricket. For Virat, it’s about becoming the best he can be. I have used Virat as an example for my players. The way he changed his lifestyle, the accent on fitness. I have enjoyed watching Virat grow as a cricketer,” the South African stated.
“Virat’s the best in the world. Purely as somebody passionate about cricket, he’s one of three batsmen I’d pay a lot of money to watch — AB de Villiers and David Warner being the other two. AB has retired completely from international cricket and Warner is currently ineligible to play for Australia. So, Virat’s the only one playing international cricket and that too all three formats. Kane Williamson, I should add, is in the same league,” he added.
When asked to give his thoughts on the IPL continuing to shun Pakistan players, Arthur replied, “I’ll only say that the likes of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan would bring good value to the IPL.”
The 50-year-old also credited the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for significantly impacting the quality of players coming though the country’s setup.
“The PSL has allowed us to look at a wider pool of cricketers and they’ve been getting used to handling situations of pressure in front of big crowds. The domestic players are learning from their overseas teammates. It’s a win-win situation,” Arthur explained.
Arthur’s men are currently locked in battle with Australia in the first Test of the two-match series at Dubai.