AUS v PAK 1st Test, Day 3 Review: Smith, Khawaja puts Australia in the drivers seat
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After dominating the first two days of the Pink Ball Test in Adelaide, Australia continued their resurgence even on the 3rd day and finished the day in the driver’s seat. Pakistan who was tottering at 97/8 at the end of the 2nd day’s play added 45 more to their overnight total before folding out for 142. Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed was the lone warrior in the field for Pakistan as he remained unbeaten on 58.
Australian batsmen responded in a terrific fashion in their 2nd innings and batted in a positive fashion to post 202/5 in 39 overs before Steve Smith decided to declare the innings. Pakistan batted much better in their 2nd innings in pursuit of the 440-run target and finished Day 3 at 70/2.
Sarfaraz Ahmed began with a fluent drive of Hazlewood to resume the proceedings for Pakistan. Mohammad Amir who was the other overnight batsman with Sarfaraz played very well for his 21 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Jackson Bird. The ball came back sharply and Amir inside edged it to Matthew Wade. Though the onfield umpire ruled in the favour of the batsman, replays showed there was a clear mark on the hotspot and the message was passed onto the onfield umpire by the 3rd umpire.
Sarfaraz waged a lone battle and struck a beautiful half century before Rahat Ali was run out by David Warner to put down the curtains on Pakistan first innings at the score of 142. All three Australian pacers finished with 3 wickets each.
With a gigantic 287 runs lead, Australia began in a positive fashion and looked to score briskly. They lost openers, David Warner and Matt Renshaw, early but Usman Khwaja and Steve Smith ensured Australia consolidated on their big 1st innings lead and scored at a brisk pace. Both the batsmen played some delightful strokes and made most of their 1st innings effort.
Smith was at his sublime best and executed two pull shots of Mohammad Amir to perfection. Commentators suggested they were the best shots of the day. He reached his half-century off a mere 55 balls and was well supported by Khwaja at the other end. He was the dormant partner in the partnership and took his time to get going. He was troubled by Amir during the initial part of his innings but he somehow managed to negate his pace and swing to notch up his 6th half-century of his Test career.
Smith was eventually dismissed by Yasir Shah when he tried to hit an uppish flick shot which took the inside part of the bat and lobbed up straight into the air. Rahat Ali who was standing at mid-on took a safe catch. Khwaja too departed soon as Australia declared their 2nd innings at 203/5 in 39 overs, giving Pakistan 490 to chase in their 2nd essay. While left-arm paceman Rahat Ali finished with 2/40 in his 10 overs, Amir, Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz shared a wicket each.
Chasing an improbable victory target, Pakistan began slightly better in the 2nd innings with openers Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali looking in good nick. Aslam played two delightful strokes off Josh Hazlewood before falling to Mitchell Starc for 15. Aslam who looked pretty solid in defence chased a wide delivery outside the off stump. The ball deviated just a bit and took the outside edge of the bat and Matt Renshaw at first slip accepted it gleefully.
Babar Azam joined Azhar Ali in the middle and was beaten several times outside the off stump by Starc and Hazlewood. Despite grinding hard Babar Azam eventually fell to Nathan Lyon who beat his bat several times and never looked in control against him. The ball gripped and deceived Azam in the flight and there was enough bounce in the Gabba wicket to take the outside edge. Smith who was fielding in the first slips pouched the catch without any fuss.
Younis Khan who went for a first ball naught in the first innings failed to score a single run in his first 19 balls of his innings and remained unbeaten on naught at the end of the day’s play. Azhar Ali who batted sensibly remained unbeaten on 41, hitting 5 fours in the process.
With two full days remaining in the Test, Australia clearly look the overwhelming favourites to win the match and it will require something miraculous from Pakistan to make a match out of it.
Australia 1st innings: 429 (S Smith 130, P Handscomb 105; W Riaz 4/89)
Pakistan 1st innings: 142 all out (S Ahmed 59*; J Hazlewood 3/22)
Australia 2nd innings: 203/5 dec (Usman Khawaja 74; Rahat Ali 2/40)
Pakistan 2nd innings: 70/2 (Azhar Ali 41*; Nathan Lyon 1/30)
Pakistan need 420 more runs to win
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