Fast bowler struggled through his final few overs on a day that ended with the hosts 255-3
Pakistan v Australia: Mitchell Starc suffers a 'bit of cramp' but fine to continue Dubai Test
Mitchell Starc will be fit to continue the search for Pakistan wickets when play resumes on Day 2 in Dubai, despite hobbling through his final two overs on Friday.
The left-arm fast bowler winced as he held various parts of his legs near the end of the opening day at Dubai International Stadium. He ended the 88th over of the day on the floor and needed the help of teammates to stretch his legs.
Despite that, he returned to bowl the 90th, as Australia sought to make further inroads, after Pakistan had reached 255-3.
Test preview: Sarfraz Ahmed and Tim Paine both target fresh starts
But Starc will be fit to go again on Monday, according to fellow paceman Peter Siddle, who saw humour in his colleague’s late struggles.
“It is always funny for the other blokes out in the field to see one of their teammates cramping up,” Siddle said.
“He is feeling alright. It was just a little bit of cramp. He toiled hard. He is always going to be used in a lot of short spells throughout the day.
“It is what he has come to expect – if we get a wicket late in the day, especially if a tailender comes in [Mohammed Abbas batted as a nightwatchman], he is the man to be thrown the ball again.
“It was great fight from him and he got close, but not close enough.”
Australia’s bowlers were made to wait for their rewards, having been invited to bowl first on a hot day.
Mohammed Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan openers, batted throughout the first two sessions, but Australia hit back with three wickets for 39 inside 24 overs of the evening session.
Siddle, who took the wicket of Hafeez, said his side are aware of the struggles of playing Test cricket against Pakistan in the UAE.
“Over here it always challenging cricket,” Siddle, who was playing his first Test since 2016, said. “To win a Test match here it is always a long haul and you have to dig in.
“We were still positive, we were still up and about. We knew the wicket hadn’t offered a lot and there wasn’t much movement yet. We just had to keep grinding.”
Siddle, Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland took one wicket apiece. Starc, for all his endeavor in the 21 overs he sent down, finished wicketless, but he was constantly threatening.
“Mitchell Starc really challenges you a lot during your innings,” said Hafeez, who made light of an early blow on the helmet from Starc and went on to make a century for Pakistan.
“Even though the conditions and the heat were tough for a fast bowler to bowl well, he really challenged me throughout my innings.”