On the second day of the opening Test in Rawalpindi, veteran batsmen Azhar Ali and Imam-ul-Haq both scored hundreds to help Pakistan dominate Australia.
Azhar knocked 185 and Haq a career-best 157 to guide Pakistan to 476-4 against a hapless Australian attack on a placid and unresponsive Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch.
Skipper Babar Azam declared the innings an hour before closing in the hope of an early wicket. However, Australia closed the day on five without loss after bad light ended play with 15 overs remaining.
Left-handed opener Usman Khawaja scored five, while David Warner was yet to get off the mark. Australia will need another 272 runs to avoid the follow-on against Pakistan’s wily spinners who are used to the pitch conditions.
Players from both teams also wore black armbands, while the handful of early-morning spectators in the stands also stood in respect. Pakistan added just 57 runs at snail’s pace in the morning session.
Dominating the first Test
Haq was the slowest of the pair, adding just six runs in the first hour and not hitting a boundary until the 90th minute. He was lucky to survive a caught-behind appeal on 143 off Lyon that the Australians did not challenge when replays showed it hit the bat.
But Azhar put on a solid 208-run stand for the second wicket with Haq and then another 101 for the third wicket with Azam, who was run out for 36. Azhar was finally caught reverse sweeping part-time spinner Marnus Labuschagne after batting for just four minutes under nine hours.
Mohammad Rizwan (29) and Iftikhar Ahmed (13) remained not out. For Australia’s pace-cum-spin attack it was a hard toil as Labuschagne (1-53), Cummins (1-62), and Nathan Lyon (1-161) were among wickets.
Spearheads Mitchell Starc (0-71) and Josh Hazlewood (0-53) went wicket-less. Pakistan lost only Imam-ul-Haq in the first two sessions as they added 149 runs after resuming the day on 245-1. Haq completed 150 before he was trapped leg-before by Cummins soon after lunch.
Having challenged the decision, Haq batted for nearly nine hours and hit 16 boundaries and two sixes. Azhar then hit a lofted drive to deep mid-on to complete his 19th century in the 92nd Test, his fourth against Australia in 12 matches.
Australia has not toured Pakistan since 1998 for security reasons. The tourists will play three Tests, as many one-day internationals and a single T20I.
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