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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Sarfraz Ahmed waiting on injury assessment after Pakistan fight back in Abu Dhabi Test

Captain hit on arm after he and opener Fazkhar Zaman both score 94 to help hosts recover from 57-5 to 282 all out, while Australia close Day 1 on 20-2

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed played a heroic innings against Australia on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi Test. Getty Images
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed played a heroic innings against Australia on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi Test. Getty Images

Sarfraz Ahmed might be forced to miss crucial game-time in the deciding second Test against Australia as he deals with the effects of a brutal blow on the arm from Mitchell Starc.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur discussed with the umpires at the close of Day 1 the possibility of his side fielding a substitute wicketkeeper in place of their captain.

Pakistan plan to recall Mohammed Rizwan from Dubai as cover. The young wicketkeeper was released from the Test squad at the end of the first match, and was in Twenty20 action for Pakistan’s A team at the ICC Academy on Monday.

He will make the journey down to Abu Dhabi, though, ahead of a morning fitness test on Day 2 for the captain, who was wearing a substantial ice-pack on his left arm at the close of play on Tuesday.

Sarfraz had been hit by a short-ball by Starc high on his unprotected left-forearm, having played a substantial role in rescuing Pakistan from a perilous position early in the second Test.

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He was dismissed shortly after, against the bowling of Marnus Labuschagne, having made 94 – an identical score to that earlier made by debutant Fakhar Zaman.

Sarfraz and Fakhar had shared a vital stand to hoist Pakistan from the mire at 57-5, to 204-5. When they went, Pakistan provided little resistance otherwise, and were 282 all out.

Despite the pain, Sarfraz was still able to play an important role in Australia’s short stint batting before the close.

He held a fine catch down the legside to remove Usman Khawaja, the first Test hero for the tourists, as Australia fell to 20-2 before stumps.

Sarfraz said an accurate diagnosis will not be possible until the swelling abates on his injury.

“At the moment there is a lot of swelling, but hopefully tomorrow it will be getting better,” Sarfraz said.

“At the time [when he was hit] I felt a lot of pain, but I could not go out [retire] at that time because there were not many batsmen left to come in.”

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Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon, centre, took four wickets in the first session of the Abu Dhabi Test on Tuesday. AP Photo
Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon, centre, took four wickets in the first session of the Abu Dhabi Test on Tuesday. AP Photo

Pakistan’s first-innings total was some way short of what they might have been hoping for after winning the toss and opting to bat.

Abu Dhabi has traditionally been a batsman’s paradise in the past, but the wicket has had a lot of use already this season, after the Zayed Cricket Stadium staged five matches in the Asia Cup.

Twelve wickets fell on Day 1, the first time that has happened on the opening day of a Test in the capital, and the pitch was taking turn from early in the piece.

Nathan Lyon took four wickets before lunch with his off-spin, the first time he has done that on the first day of a Test in his 80-match career to date.

He had taken 77.5 overs to take four wickets in the Dubai Test, but this time matched that haul within the space of six deliveries over the course of his fourth and fifth overs.

He dismissed Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam in quick succession to leave Pakistan in disarray.

In so doing, he also surpassed Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson in the list of Australia’s leading Test wicket-takers. Only Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have taken more.

“I’ve never been one for personal success and goals, or at least talking about them,” Lyon said.

“It is a massive honour to pass the likes of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson today. I played a lot of cricket with Mitch, he has been like a big brother to me.

“I have been fortunate to play 80 Test matches for Australia and to be in this position to take 314 wickets. It is a great achievement, and something I’ll look back on with family and friends when I am retired and talk about.

“My mum and dad will be pretty proud, but right now it is about doing my best for the Australia cricket team and winning Test matches.”