AUS v PAK, 2nd Test, Day 1 Review: Azhar Ali leads fight back after Australia grab early honors

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Jackson Bird of Australia
Jackson Bird of Australia celebrates the wicket of Misbah-ul-Haq. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Azhar Ali scored an unbeaten half-century to hold Pakistan’s innings together as Jackson Bird inflicted two huge dents to put Australia on top at stumps on rain affected Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Monday (December 26).

The right arm seamer did not allow Pakistan to gain an early momentum and exposed Pakistan’s middle-order by dismissing senior pros Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq with two impressive deliveries in quick successions. Azhar Ali, however, remained intact in the middle and along with Asad Shafiq led Pakistan’s fight help Pakistan finish at 142/4 in 50.5 overs at Tea before rain washed out the last session.

Both the teams went into the match with an unchanged team as the huge MCG crowd waited for Mitchell Star to open the bowling after Misbah called it right at the toss. The homes fans quickly got a reason to cheer as Pakistan opener Sami Aslam lost his wicket to a beauty from offs spinner Nathan Lyon. The left-hander had a wretched start to the day facing Starc and Hazlewood in the middle.

Smith decided to bring spin in the first hour of the play and got instant results. It was being said that the crowd will burst into a big ‘nice Garry’ chant three balls into the over. And, stunningly, three balls later, the off-spinner ripped a perfect off-break and induced a panic-stricken outside edge from Sami which went straight to the first slip.

Younis Khan and Babar Azam then threatened to forge big stands with Azhar Ali but Bird chipped in with the wickets of both the batsmen to put Australia on the driver’s seat. Azam looked promising and added 23 in the 42 third wicket stand while Younis also played a somewhat similar knock, scoring 21 in the 51 runs 4th wicket partnership. Azhar played with a cautious approached and brought up a gritty fifty while also breaching the 1000-run mark in Test for 2016.

A bad news arrived from the commentary box after Mark Nicholas, the Channel 9 commentator, had to be taken to the hospital for tests after he complained of abdominal pains.

Brief Scores:

Pakistan: 142/4 in 50.5 overs (Azhar Ali 66; Jackson Bird 2/53)

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