Pakistan v Australia Report Card: Five-star Abbas earns A+ for hosts

Denzil Pinto 18:33 17/10/2018
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Pakistan are in control

Pakistan took a giant step towards winning the two-match Test series against Australia after dominating the second day of the Abu Dhabi Test with the bat and ball on Wednesday.

The ‘hosts’ closed play on 144-2 and go into the third day in Abu Dhabi with a 281-run lead of after Mohammad Abbas earlier took 5-33.

After Pakistan scored 282 in their first innings, Australia resumed on 20-2 but were bowled out for 145 in 50.4 overs after a forgettable first session.

The tourists lost five wickets before lunch with Abbas removing Travis Head (14) and Shaun Marsh (3) in the space of eight overs, while Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif also struck.

Abbas completed his third five-wicket haul with the dismissal of Mitchell Starc to put Pakistan in the driving seat.

Pakistan made further inroads with the bat with Fakhar Zaman becoming scoring his second fifty on debut. He struck 66 off 83 balls while Azhar Ali is unbeaten on 54.

Here are our talking points from the second day

THE GOOD

Abbas on song again: Having removed Usman Khawaja (3) and nightwatchman Peter Siddle (4) on Tuesday, Sarfraz Ahmed turned to Abbas in the opening hour and he didn’t disappoint as he accounted for the wickets of Shaun and Head. He was a constant threat every time he had the ball. Came back after Yasir and Asif did their bit, going on to claim his third five-wicket haul.

Finch finds his feet: Just like Zaman, Aaron Finch seems to be getting to grips with the five-day format. The opening batsman – with 93 ODIs and 42 T20Is under his belt – donned the Australian whites for the first time in last week’s Test in Dubai and didn’t fare badly with scores of 62 and 49. In Abu Dhabi, he was out for 39, adding 26 to his overnight total. Although it is a low score, the way he batted will give Australia a lot of encouragement going forward. The 31-year-old showed great composure during the 83-ball stay.

THE BAD

Labuschangne’s lazy dismissal: The 24-year has made a big impression with his part-time leg-spin. But the Queensland native had a shocking moment at the crease and he only had himself to blame for his run-out. Yasir managed to get finger tips on Mitchell Starc’s drive and Marnus Labuschagne made absolutely no attempt to ground his bat at the non-striker’s end. His laziness cost him his wicket and ended a growing 37-run stand.

Another low for Birthday boy Hafeez: Questions were raised over his selection for first Test and Mohammad Hafeez silenced all doubters with a fine century. But since that milestone in Dubai, the veteran all-rounder has had a torrid time with the bat. After scoring 17 in the second innings last week, Hafeez, who turned 38 on Wednesday, failed to get even close to that tally after being dismissed for just six. It was the second time he failed to reach double digits in this Test after managing four in the first essay.

KEY MOMENTS

Australia innings

10.6 overs, Shaun out: Abbas takes his third wicket of the game with Shaun Marsh caught at slip.

18.1 overs, Abbas on a roll: Another magical delivery from Abbas as he gets Head to edge straight to slip.

30.6 overs, Finch gone: More misery for the Aussies with opener Finch taken at short leg off Asif.

34.4 overs, skipper dismissed: Tim Paine becomes the fifth wicket to fall in the opening session. Asif’s ball hits his front leg and given out by umpire. Paine reviews but decision is upheld.

50.4 overs, Abbas’ five-for: Abbas completes his five-wicket haul, trapping Mitchell Starc lbw as Australia are all out for 145.

Pakistan innings

4.2 overs, Hafeez out: Hafeez hits Starc’s delivery straight to Head at short cover.

16.2 overs, Fakhar’s fifty: Zaman scores another half-century, reaching the mark off 53 deliveries.

39.6 overs, Ali delivers:  A misfield from Australia allows Azhar Ali to notch his 29th Test fifty.

KEY TURNING POINT

First session

After losing two wickets in the final hour on Tuesday, it was crucial for the Australians to not lose more in the morning. But they were blown away. As Paine fell on the last ball before lunch, the damage was done with seven wickets down with just 91 on the board. Although the tourists battled back, those five wickets in the first two hours proved costly.

VERDICT

Pakistan  A+

From the very first ball to the last, Pakistan never were ahead of the game. It was a day that belonged to Sarfraz Ahmed and Co. They never allowed Australia to get into the game with their bowlers clinical with the ball, while Zaman and Ali’s fifties have put them in a strong position.

Australia D

The Aussies face a real struggle to save the Test, let alone win it. They only have themselves to blame for their batting woes and cannot afford to make any more errors if they want to avoid defeat.

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