Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Finch, Khawaja keep Pakistan wicketless in chase of 462

10 Oct 2018, 21:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Australia 202 and 72 for no loss (Finch 39*, Khawaja 32*) need another 390 runs to beat Pakistan 482 and 181 for 6 dec

As in the first innings, Australia's openers continue to lead the resistance against a Pakistan surge. Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch picked up where they left off after their 142-run stand was broken yesterday, adding 72 runs in 23 overs, without giving up any wickets. Aside from four overs at the top by Mohammad Abbas, who was his consistent, probing spell, the spinners operated for almost the entirety of the session. But the Australian openers were wise to their wile, picking Bilal Asif early - perhaps even out of the hand - and their footwork did not let them down.

There was plenty to suggest Yasir Shah and Asif will continue to grow in stature as the match progresses. The odd ball spun sharply enough to worry the batsmen, and Yasir occasionally found the inside edge to keep the short leg interested. Pakistan set an unnecessarily negative field, though; there were a number of fielders on the boundary in what was most definitely not catching positions. Against a team that still requires almost 400 runs to win, there was little need of such conservatism.

For Australia, though, this is just the start. They must bat out another 114 overs or - far more improbably - chase 390 more if they are to avoid defeat here. The declaration came eight overs after lunch, a spell in which Pakistan showed less intent than they might have done; Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam added 26 runs to the score in this time. When Shafiq holed out at attempting to launch Nathan Lyon over the mid-wicket boundary, Sarfraz Ahmed, instead of going out to bat, called his side in.

Any hopes Australia may have had of running through Pakistan this morning were dashed by a sedate, sensible partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Haris Sohail. The pair guided their team out of the slightly uncomfortable overnight score of 45 for 3 with a 65-run partnership.

It was hard to say whether the pitch had flattened out considerably since the last two sessions on Tuesday, or if it was just a case of Haris and Imam applying themselves better. They waited for Nathan Lyon's turn while, as ever, going after Jon Holland.

The first hour took the lead entirely out of territory Australia may have fancied themselves to get with a positive approach. They did, however, hit back with Holland and Marnus Labaschugne dismissing the pair in quick succession, but with the lead having surpassed 450, Pakistan are well on their way.

Both Imam and Haris missed out on half-centuries by falling to tame dismissals. Imam ran down the wicket to Holland but ended up spooning a simple return catch, while Haris missed a long hop from Labuschagne that clattered into his pads in front of the stumps.

The fall of Imam and Haris brought Shafiq and Babar together, and the pair maintained the tempo the left-handers had set. A six - off Holland, predictably - from Babar set the partnership rolling, and Australia began to leak runs thereafter. The pair rotated the strike regularly, finding boundaries almost every over, speeding towards the imminent declaration. Forty-one came off the last eight overs before lunch, and by the end, even Australia looked to be going through the motions.

They will need all their reserves of concentration if they are to pull off an unlikely draw over the next day and a half.

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