Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test Day 1: 5 Talking Points

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Azhar Ali of Pakistan
Azhar Ali of Pakistan bats during day one. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

After what was an impressive outing for Pakistan against hosts Australia in the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane, it was back to business at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where it was the impressive Pakistanis who made a mark for themselves on Boxing Day with some impressive solidity for one and all to see. However, this solidity did not last long courtesy of some rather poor and ordinary shots played by the senior batsmen in the form of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq who simply could not get their way to persist.

The genius of Steve Smith was once again there for one and all to see as he rotated the Australia bowlers in tandem and was able to get the breakthroughs he so desperately longed for in the context of the match. While the rain made its divine intervention closer to the end of the day, Mark Nicholas had somewhat of a minor medical issue before leaving the MCG closer to the end of the day.

1. Nathan Lyon’s early introduction pays dividends

At the MCG, it is clear that the wicket is unpredictable when it comes to reading the wicket. Also, with modern day captains and their thinking when it comes to taking decisions in the modern day, it seems quite clear that a gamble is perhaps the best option to take from time to time. Thus, for many, it was not too much of a surprise that Nathan Lyon was introduced by skipper Steve Smith when he was handed the ball soon after the close of the 10th over. This paid dividends in the outset almost immediately. Of course, one could certainly give a lot of flak to the southpaw Sami Aslam who had clearly played a poor shot against Lyon.

2. Babar Azam withstands whirlwind of pace bowling

While much has been made about the old dogs in the form of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq failing with the bat, it was clear that the others had to stand up in a bid to avoid yet another overrun from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood. It was time for Babar Azam to undergo his baptism of fire when it came to facing a quality Australian pace attack at what was an up and down wicket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Needless to say, the 21-year old Pakistan batsman responded to his baptism rather well in the sense that he stuck around apart from the obvious 21 runs he scored on the day. However, should he want to be remembered as a legend of the game, he will have to play out of skins.

3. Azhar Ali stands tall among the ruins

When Azhar Ali comes out to bat, there is one of two possibilities. Either he goes on to smash a massive ton or he simply gets out for a score within the single digits. While the Pakistan ODI skipper has had a few string of low scores in recent times, the fact of the matter remains that the 28-year old impressed with some impressive batting on the day, meaning that Azhar Ali was simply phenomenal on the day. He managed 66 runs and also remained unbeaten as he impressed with some impressive batting acumen.

4. Jackson Bird strikes before the heavens open up

When Jackson Bird was selected for the Boxing Day Test match, there were a few skeptics who stated that Chadd Sayers would perhaps be a better fit when it comes to plying his trade in the longest format. However, Bird impressed one and all when he dismissed two of Pakistan’s most important players in the form of Younis Khan and Misbah, both of whom were dismissed for terrific deliveries, something that Bird would certainly take a lot of pride in doing. He concluded the day with figures of 2/53, perhaps some decent figures compared to the rest of the Aussie bowlers on the day.

5. Day ends in rains as Mark Nicholas rushed off to the hospital

The day concluded on the stroke of tea when the heavens opened up for the first time in the series as it concluded the day of play prematurely and rather abruptly. However, there was also a bit of caution thrown into the wind when Mark Nicholas was diagnosed with some abdominal pain and was subsequently rushed off to the hospital just outside the MCG as well.

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