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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Haris Sohail makes most of good fortune as batsman's century helps Pakistan build lead against Australia

Australia’s new opening pair of Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch made it to the close on Day 2 on 30 without being parted

Pakistan batsman Haris Sohail, left, celebrates his century during Day 2 of the first Test against Australia at Dubai International Stadium. AFP
Pakistan batsman Haris Sohail, left, celebrates his century during Day 2 of the first Test against Australia at Dubai International Stadium. AFP

Haris Sohail hit his maiden Test century for Pakistan before Australia rallied in the first Test at the Dubai International Stadium on Monday.

Having fielded for 162 overs in taxing conditions, Australia’s new opening pair of Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch made it to the close on Day 2 on 30 without being parted.

The tourists still have a substantial task ahead of them, as they trail by 452 runs. They will, though, be buoyed by the fact the wicket has presented few demons so far, and has been shown to reward patience.

Haris provided the perfect template. The left-hander faced 240 deliveries in his innings of 110. That strike-rate of 45.8 represented quite a considerable acceleration, too, once he had reached 50, as the low-bouncing pitch and the resilience of Australia’s bowlers made for slow going.

He was afforded one slice of fortune, when on 51, when he walked down the wicket to Nathan Lyon’s off-spin then opted to kick the ball away without playing a shot.

He was given not out. Australia reviewed, but, although the ball was shown to be going on to hit the stumps, the decision stayed with Richard Illingworth's original not-out call, on the basis Haris was more than three metres down the wicket.

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Pakistan’s eventual first-innings tally of 482 all out might yet prove formidable, with three days still to go and a pitch showing signs of wear, but it should have been a good deal more.

The hosts were powerfully placed on 410-4 after a 150-run partnership between Haris and Asad Shafiq. For a second day in a row, Australia had only managed meagre pickings over the course of the first two sessions, this time round just the wicket of nightwatchman Mohammed Abbas.

The Haris-Shafiq alliance was finally broken when Marnus Labuschagne found Shafiq’s outside edge and was caught at the wicket by Tim Paine.

The South Africa-born debutant roared with delight at the dismissal. He was selected first and foremost as a middle-order batsman, but had made his first impact in Tests with his leg-spin bowling instead.

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Read more:

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Day 1: Hafeez marks Test return with century for Pakistan in Dubai

Test preview: Sarfraz Ahmed and Tim Paine both target fresh starts

Yasir Shah: Pakistan bowler targets 20 Australia scalps and a series win

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“It is a dream come true playing for your country and being able to represent Australia,” said Labuschagne, who moved to Australia with his family as a child.

“It is our job now as the holders of that cap to take Australia forward, and make Australia proud. I’ve been working on my bowling for the past three months in specific, just trying to get faster through the air and bowling the right length.

“I’ve been working hard with [Sridharan Sriram, Australia’s spin-bowling coach], and it was pleasing to see it come off today. I was pleased to come on, not go for too many runs, and was lucky enough to get a wicket as well.”

From thereon, Pakistan’s effort with the bat was a curious collection of mishaps. Babar Azam – as has become his quirky custom – fell straight after a break, when he was run out after a mix up with Haris.

Sarfraz Ahmed fell the same way, to a direct hit by Aaron Finch, after dawdling the first two-thirds of a single.

Peter Siddle, on his return after two years out of the side, was Australia’s most successful bowler, as he took 3-58 from 29 overs.

“The wicket is pretty good, it has deteriorated a little bit,” Labuschagne said. “I think it will hold together pretty well, so if we can put a pretty good batting performance on the board, that will put us in really good stead for that third innings.”