24/05/2024

Finally a breakthrough: Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins celebrate the wicket of Imam-Ul-Haq. Image: cricket.com.au

Day 2 presented the touring Australian side with an opportunity to wrestle back the momentum of the match but largely failed to make any inroads into the Pakistan batting order.

Day 2 presented the touring Australian side with an opportunity to wrestle back the momentum of the match and make any inroads into the Pakistani batting order.

The spoils of the day however went to Pakistan, with Imam-Ul-Haq finishing on a career-best score, and Azhar Ali going big scoring 185 to power the home side to a massive 4/476 declared.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day 2 in Rawalpindi:

Tributes flow on another emotional morning

Barely believable. Only feeling like hours after the loss of champion wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, the unimaginable was confirmed. 

Breaking overnight it was announced that Shane Warne, The King of Spin had sadly passed away after a suspected heart attack whilst holidaying in Thailand. 

The emotional outcry from all corners of the globe has been immense, thus the impact Warne has had on both the cricketing and wider world. 

Fans and experts alike having trouble putting their thoughts into words, the collective world in shock, losing one of the greatest cricketers at only 52 years of age.

Before the commencement of play on day two both teams assembled on the field to observe a minute’s silence to remember the champion. 

A missed opportunity and a milestone score

After burning a review early on day one, Pat Cummins has shown caution at using another and potentially only having one to play with for the remainder of the Pakistan innings. 

Enter Nathan Lyon in the 110th over, continuing to toil away as the sole specialist spinner in the XI. Bowling at the inform Imam-Ul-Haq, Lyon trapped the batter on the crease forcing an attempted backfoot cut caught behind the stumps by Alex Carey. 

The reaction was immediate, both Carey and vice-captain Steve Smith at first slip appealing for what they believed to be a regulation caught behind. The somewhat half-hearted appeal was turned down by experience umpire Aleem Dar, with Cummins hesitant to go upstairs and review what he believed was a 50/50 decision. 

As Lyon continued through his over, Ultra-edge replays appeared to show a small spike as the ball passed by the bottom of Imam-Ul-Haq’s bat. While there were two noises, the replays did go a way to show this potentially was a missed opportunity for the Australian side. 

Adding further insult to injury Imam-Ul-Haq completed the over by bringing up his maiden Test 150, the temperament and composure he has shown throughout the innings rewarded with another milestone marker. 

Straight bowling to suffocate, but no wickets to reward

The first session ended much as the day started. Pakistan seemingly comfortable and in complete control of the game. 

The Australian bowlers limited both Azar Ali and Imam-Ul-Haq to a combined 57 runs for the session at a run rate of 2.28 per over. 

And while the Australian bowlers may have succeeded in limiting the damage on the scoreboard, no wickets were taken to stem the flow, only furthering the pain for the tourists. 

The Pakistan side breached the 300-run barrier shortly before the lunch interval, ending the session in a commanding position at 302/1.

A ton full of patience just after Lunch

Not wasting any time after the lunch interval, Azhar Ali brought up his 19th Test century with a somewhat risky mistimed lofted shot over mid-on for a boundary. 

The boundary scoring century moved Ali into 3rd place amongst Pakistan players for centuries scored against Australia. Both Ijaz Ahmed and Javed Miandad sit equal first on six centuries apiece. 

The relief and ecstasy for Ali were immediate, scoring a hundred in front of home fans against the world-class bowling lineup of Australia. 

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A wasted review borne out of desperation, followed by the big breakthrough

Burning a second review early in the session surely can’t have been in the playbook for Australia, but desperation seemingly took a hold of captain Pat Cummins and did just that. 

An attempted pull shot by Azhar Ali saw confident appeals from both Marnus Labuschagne and vice-captain Steve Smith. With Cummins bowling, his face told the story of a desperate captain, looking for any support to send the decision upstairs for review. 

The desperation proved futile, as the review only confirmed what was seemingly already known, clear daylight between bat and ball, another life for Azhar Ali. 

Could this have lit the fire under Cummins? 

Only a couple of deliveries later he struck, a plumb LBW trapping centurion Imam-Ul-Haq dead Infront, a perfectly executed reverse swinging delivery catching Ul-Haq by surprise and without an answer, not even DRS could come to save the day. 

A visibly annoyed Ul-Haq trudged off the ground to cheers of appreciation from the adoring home fans, the 157 scored setting a new highest score for the opener.

Babar in the driver’s seat

As the second wicket fell, out walked skipper Babar Azam to the raucous cheers of the home fans, waiting almost a day and a half to see him out in the middle. 

With the strong foundations set by the top three, fans were made to wait to see the skipper go to work. 

Wasting no time in pleasing the fans, Azam sent a picture-perfect straight drive to the boundary off only his sixth delivery at the crease. 

After settling his innings, Azam walked off for the tea interval with his score sitting at 33 not out.

Persisting with part timers and pushing the scoring rate as the total soars past 400

Rejuvenated after the tea break and seeing Australia continue with part-time spin options in Marnus Labuschagne, Pakistan began to push the envelope and increase the scoring rate, in contrast to the paltry efforts made in the first two sessions, 

The over saw Azhar Ali send Labuschagne to the boundary on three occasions, these twelve runs helping Pakistan reach the 400-run mark for a loss of only two wickets. 

With wickets to spare the session provides Pakistan with the opportunity to really put the foot down before a potential declaration towards the end of the day. 

Labuschagne’s piece of magic removes Babar

With the Pakistan side continuing to pile on the pain a breakthrough wicket seemed far out of reach. Something needed to give, someone needing to light the fuse for the Australian side to wrestle back some momentum to the tourist’s way. 

Enter Marnus Labuschagne. 

Pouncing on a pushed shot to short mid-wicket, Marnus Labuschagne gathered and released, throwing the stumps down at the non-striker’s end sending Babar Azham on his way. 

The Aussies knew it was out as soon as the bails hit the floor, going upstairs to confirm a mere formality, as Labuschagne did his best hype man impression to pump up the team. 

Making a mare of a regulation chance

The adage of one brings two. 

And if it weren’t for a dropped catch by Australian Keeper Alex Carey it would’ve just been that. 

With their tails up and momentum shifting ever so slowly, Australia had the chance to claim the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan before he built a foundation and established his innings. 

Facing up to Nathan Lyon in his first over at the crease, Rizwan was caught slashing at a ball wide of off stump, the brash shot catching his edge and ballooning off Alex Carey’s gloves. 

The disappointment couldn’t be hidden from Lyon’s face, another chance gone begging. 

185 and out for Azhar Ali

Resident energiser bunny Marnus Labuschagne strikes again. This time his leg-spin doing the handy work to remove the set batter Azhar Ali. 

Ali selflessly opened his arms to try to push the scoring rate and push the total to a declaration score. 

On comes Labuschagne with his tail up after his run-out effort and sending down his tempting part-time leggies. 

Unfortunately for Ali, he tried one too many big shots, holing out to Green running back to complete the regulation catch, ending his innings on a formidable 185 to the delight and sadness of the Pakistan fans. 

A late declaration and a twist to the tale? 

After 162 overs faced by the Pakistan batters, a surprise declaration was called by captain Babar Azam, with the score sitting at 476-4 dec. 

As the floodlights illuminated the playing surface the Pakistan quicks raced out to stretch their legs ahead of a quick burst at the Australian batting order. 

An anticlimactic end ensue. With poor light only meaning that one over of spin could be completed before the players were taken off the field and Stumps was called.

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