Cricket

Abbas' five puts Pakistan in pole position


PAKISTAN VS AUSTRALIA IN UAE, 2018

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Abbas finished with figures of 5 for 33 – his career-best. © Getty

Mohammad Abbas‘s third five-wicket haul in Tests was instrumental in giving Pakistan a 137-run lead after they bowled out Australia for 145 on the second day of the second Test in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan needed just 50.4 overs to bowl Australia out, who were reduced to 91 for 7 at Lunch on Wednesday (October 17). By Tea, Pakistan, in their second innings, had lost Mohammad Hafeez, going into the break at 51 for 1, leading by 188.

Starc hit better lengths in his spell this session than he had in the first innings, but the pacer didn’t look very comfortable in the middle after bowling his fourth over. In his second, though, he got Australia the early break after Hafeez misread the length of one that got stuck in the pitch a bit. Ended up scooping it straight to cover, driving one that was not to be. Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman, akin to the first innings, upped the run rate with their stand fetching Pakistan 36 runs in 41 balls, with Pakistan scoring at 4.64 in their 11 overs. Zaman was unbeaten on a run-a-ball 32, while Azhar was not out on 12.

Australia got close to the 150-run mark after a cameo from Mitchell Starc after their precarious position at Lunch with more than half the side dismissed without even 100 runs on the board. Starc and Marnus Labuschagne stitched a very useful 37-run stand after the break to stabilise the innings that looked like it was headed nowhere. Absent-mindedness from Labuschagne, however, cost Australia, with the batsman failing to ground his bat at the non-striker’s end despite watching the ball, which brushed Yasir Shah’s fingertips on its way back. His bat only hovered inside the crease; it wasn’t grounded.

Bilal Asif, who was impressive and in tandem with Yasir choked the Australian batsmen, picked up his third after a delivery kept low to Nathan Lyon, who looked to sweep and got bowled in the process. The innings was brought to an end with Abbas’s fifth when a loud appeal against Starc for a leg-before was turned down. Pakistan reviewed it, for good reason, and were rewarded. Abbas finished with figures of 5 for 33 – his career-best. Earlier, Abbas, who had accounted for opener Usman Khawaja and nightwatchman Peter Siddle on the opening day, picked up Shaun Marsh and Travis Head for cheap early. Aaron Finch, who was unbeaten on 13 when play on the day resumed, was the sole positive in the session, but fell just on the brink of lunch. Bilal struck in his first over to send back the set batsman back for 39 after Finch started the day with some cracking drives to get a move on. Shaun Marsh played at a good-length delivery to get a healthy edge that carried to Haris Sohail at first slip.

There wasn’t much movement in the pitch but good lines and lengths from debutant Mir Hamza kept Finch and Head – who was promoted above Mitchell Marsh – in check. It was a good pitch for batting with the cracks not having opened up too much but Abbas’s accuracy and the movement he was forcing off the pitch in the innings kept the Australian batsmen on their feet. He bowled seven overs on the trot to kick-start proceedings in the morning. In his sixth, he accounted for Head after eking a thick outside edge to Shafiq after an over-the-wicket delivery straightened just off the pitch, picking up his fourth.

Hamza and Yasir dried up the runs and built pressure on the new batsman Mitchell Marsh, who initially got a couple of boundaries to get going. The inability to rotate the strike, however, got to Marsh who lunged forward to defend a flighted leg-break, pulling the length back a tad bit, but enough to catch the outside edge as Australia were in trouble at 75 for 5.

They slipped further when Bilal’s strike in his opening over put an end to Finch’s patient knock, who got some overspin with the southpaw’s uncertainty as to how to play it, which resulted in iffy footwork, costing him. He got an inside edge that was caught at short leg. Yasir Shah got drift and sharp turn as the spinners tightened their grip on proceedings. Just on the brink of lunch, Tim Paine was trapped and given leg before to Bilal. The Australian skipper decided to review the decision. Replays showed the ball to be clipping leg stump, so the on-field umpire’s ball was withheld as Australia sank further.

Brief scores: Pakistan 282 & 51/1 (Fakhar Zaman 32*; Mitchell Starc 1-22) lead Australia 145 (Aaron Finch 39, Mitchell Starc 34; Mohammad Abbas 5-33, Bilal Asif 3-23) by 188 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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