Australia looked set for a big score before Pakistan’s fast bowlers brought the hosts back into the contest in the last session of the first day of the third and final Test in Lahore, with the visitors ending Day One on 232/5, here on Monday.
Left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi rocked Australia’s batsmen early by dismissing opener David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne with a score of just eight. After 2.5 overs, Australia found themselves at 8/2, with Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith tasked with withstanding the Pakistan pace assault.
Thereafter, opener Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith hit fighting half-centuries to help the Aussies recover in the second session.
They did precisely that, playing with a watchful mindset while punishing the bad deliveries. Despite Pakistan’s best efforts, another breakthrough would not come around as Australia headed to lunch at 70/2.
Khawaja’s golden run in the series continued as he brought up his third fifty-plus score. And Steve Smith would also follow suit, notching up his milestone. It was a dominant session for the Australians as they added 75 runs without losing a wicket.
The final session would finally bring some joy for Pakistan on the back of some disciplined bowling. Young quick Naseem Shah took the scalps of Smith and Travis Head as Australia battled their way to 232-5 by stumps.
The match changed course in the final session. Smith was first trapped lbw by a reverse swinging ball from young pacer Shah for 59 before spinner Khan had the well-set Khawaja caught smartly at slip nine short of a century.
Pakistan made further inroads as Shah had left-hand batsman Head caught behind for 26. The Aussies had lost half their side with the score of 206 in the 81st over, and were firmly on the backfoot.
Earlier, winning the toss, Australian skipper Pat Cummins had no hesitation in opting to bat first. While the visitors rolled in unchanged into the third and final Test, Pakistan made one change — drafting in pacer Naseem Shah in place of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.
Brief scores: Australia 232/5 in 88 overs (Usman Khawaja 91, Steven Smith 59, Travis Head 26; Shaheen Afridi 2/39, Naseem Shah 2/40) vs Pakistan