Fast bowler calls for pragmatic approach to batting as Australia are left with two days to chase daunting target of 538 to win Test and series
Australia's Peter Siddle hopes for Dubai Test encore against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi
Peter Siddle has called for “something special” from Australia's batsmen when action resumes in the second and final Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Aaron Finch (24) and Travis Head (17) guided Australia to 47-1 at stumps on Day 3 after the tourists were set a daunting target of 538 to win the match and series. Pakistan had earlier declared their second innings at 400-9.
Australia lost the wicket of Shaun Marsh, who batted ahead of the injured Usman Khawaja. Marsh (4) lasted just six deliveries before being bowled out by debutant left-arm seamer Mir Hamza for the first wicket of his Test career.
Khawaja was to have his left knee scanned after hobbling off the field during a fielding drill. Having spent the whole day on the sidelines, he was ruled out of batting until No 7 in the line-up, or until Australia occupied the crease for the equivalent amount of time that he was missing from the field.
Siddle called for a pragmatic approach to batting on the fourth and fifth days.
“There is lot of work to be done," the 33-year-old fast bowler conceded, "but I think tomorrow is going to be the telling factor, and how well we can go on and get through to the end.
“We need to dig in and give ourselves a chance," he added. "Then we’ll see where we go. It has to be something special.”
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Australia salvaged a draw in the first Test in Dubai after Khawaja scored a hundred and his teammates batted out the entire final day’s play. Siddle hopes for an encore.
“It was disappointing to lose a wicket, but the other two have done well so far," he said. "One good thing for us is seeing the wicket [and] how well it played today. Hopefully we can do it again."
Siddle said the state of the wicket will be key to which way the game swings.
“The difference on the pitch - how it played [on Thursday] wasn’t much from yesterday," said Siddle, who finished wicketless in the match. "If we can turn out tomorrow, and if it plays pretty similar, we got every chance to do something special.
“The pitch didn’t deteriorate as much as we probably thought. The cracks didn’t open up and the spin didn’t really change much from yesterday until today.
“I think our guys just need to stick around the whole day. It was nice to see the boys get over pretty well tonight and have a go from tomorrow.”
The Azhar Ali incident in Abu Dhabi not the only one: Five bizarre run-outs in cricket
Babar Azam, playing in his 15th Test, missed out on scoring his first century in this format by one run. He became the third Pakistan batsman in the game to be dismissed in the 90s after opener Fakhar Zaman and captain Sarfraz Ahmed both got out for 94 in the first innings.
It might yet be a match-winning effort from Babar, with the young batsman putting on a crucial 133-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Sarfraz (81), who scored his second half-century of the match.
Thursday's action will be remembered for a bizarre run out.
Azhar Ali edged a Siddle delivery towards the third man boundary and, thinking the ball had crossed the rope, halted in the middle of the pitch to talk to fellow batsman Asad Shafiq.
But Mitchell Starc picked up the ball less than a yard from the boundary and threw it back to wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who ran Azhar out, leaving the Pakistani duo - who boast a combined 130 Tests and over 9,000 runs - stranded and looking bewildered.
Azhar anticipates being teased by his 10-year-old son for the error in judgement.
"My son is going to speak about it for a long time and in a funny way," Azhar said of Ibtisam, who luckily for him arrived at the ground after his father's dismissal.
"Whenever I will say something about cricket he will surely come back to this incident."
Azhar is confident of a Pakistan victory, particularly if they get early wickets on Friday.
“Obviously the pitch is still good to bat, but the way [fast bowler Mohammed] Abbas is bowling, [off-spinner] Bilal [Asif], [leg-spinner] Yasir [Shah], and the way Hamza bowled, I think we have lot of options on this wicket to get the desired result," he said.