Late wickets from Pakistan have given the host the slight ascendency after Day One of the third Test as Test cricket returned to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the first time since 2009.
After Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to bat, Pakistan had the dream start, with Shaheen Afridi (2-39) taking two early wickets to leave the visitors reeling at 2-8 early. However, a century stand between Usman Khawaja (91) and Steve Smith (59) put Australia in control before late wickets to Sajid Khan (1-65) and Naseem Shah (2-36) brought the home side right back into the contest.
Here are the moments that mattered from day one Lahore.
Selection shock and early wickets as Pakistan strike early.
Pakistan went in the Third test with five specialist bowlers, desperate to turn the tide on a series tailor-made for batters and big scores.
But it was their number one bowler that struck early after losing the toss and being sent into field. It took just 2.3 overs before opener David Warner was trapped in front by Shaheen Afridi, falling for just 7. Two balls later and the usually reliant Marnus Labuschange was forced into a lose shot after a good fuller ball from Shaheen, which Marnus edged behind to the keeper Mohammad Rizwan without troubling the scorers.
The early wickets were a welcome reward for Shaheen, who has been Pakistan’s best bowler this series without much reward.
The double blow left Australia in a precarious position, 2-8, and facing a fired-up Pakistani attack.
Smith strikes back as Aussies settle.
With wickets falling early Australia needed someone to steady the ship and who else would Australia want that role to fall to than Steven Smith.
Two boundaries off his first two overs before a simply stunning cover drive off Shaheen would have been a wonderful sight for the Australian dressing room, who have seen the legendary batter save top order collapses on numerous occasions.
Partnering with Usman Khawaja the pair were able to see off the early Pakistani onslaught, getting Australia to the first drinks break without any further loss.
Two drops in two balls as Aussies push on.
With Smith and Khawaja starting to look comfortable and ticking the scoreboard over Pakistan was desperate for another scalp to regain the momentum.
They had their chances as the introduction of Nauman Ali brought about two dropped catches in two consecutive balls.
The first drop came from Babar Azam as a drive from Khawaja grazed the fingers of the first slipper. Just one ball later it was Nauman himself dropping a sharp return catch from Smith, who mistimed a drive straight back at the bowler.
Both batters were quick to make Pakistan regret their dropped chances as in Nauman’s next over, Smith sent a glorious drive over the bowlers head for four before Khawaja sent a towering slog sweep over mid-wicket for six.
Khawaja, Smith pass 50 as stand grows.
Khawaja and Smith took Australia to lunch without any more damage and shortly after lunch the pair brought up their half-centuries, defiant knocks as they saw off some classy bowling from the Pakistani quicks, keeping out the good balls before pouncing on anything wide with some beautiful cover drives.
Khawaja was the first to bring up the milestone, his 16th in Test cricket and third in what has been an incredible tour back to his country of birth. Khawaja spoke openly before the tour about his love of Pakistan and with scores of 97, 160 and 44* Khawaja has stood head and shoulders above the rest of the Australian batting order.
Smith soon followed suit, bringing up his 36th half-century in Test cricket.
Smith produced some sensational flowing cover drives early in his innings before knuckling down, playing a much more defensive style with a clear intent to be the anchor of this Australian innings and also attempt to bring up his first test century since January 2021.
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Aussies stand strong as bowlers toil.
Australia went into tea 2-145 and in a strong position as Khawaja and Smith dug deep, bringing about a wicketless session for the tourists.
After an exciting first session with chances galore for the bowlers, the Pakistani bowling attack struggled to create chances against Australia’s two in-form batters.
While the chances dried up so did the runs as the Aussie pair played extremely watchful, moving their partnership past 100 for the second consecutive test.
Smith goes as Pakistan breakthrough after Tea
Pakistan needed a big effort from their bowlers coming out of the tea break. With Australia looking to push on to a big lead and set up the match just as they did in Karachi last week, Pakistan was hunting a key breakthrough at the start of the third session.
They got exactly that when Naseem Shah cannoned a ball into Steve Smiths’ front pad, the young quick getting some reverse swing to trap Smith dead in front for 59.
The wicket came after a real build-up of pressure from the Pakistani bowlers as they continued to stick to their lines and dry up the runs.
Smith trudged off dejected after deciding not to send the decision to DRS. Smith once again failed to reach his century, his third consecutive score of 50+ without being able to convert.
Khawaja falls just short of century
For the second time this series, Usman Khawaja has narrowly missed out on a hundred, this time falling to a stunning one-handed catch from Babar Azam off the bowling of Sajid Khan for 91.
The wicket capped off an impressive spell from Sajid, mainly troubling Travis Head, before picking up the huge wicket of Khawaja just six overs before the new ball.
Khawaja once again showed why he is Australia’s in-form batters, producing another classy innings that saved Australia from a precarious position of 2-8. The wicket left Australia at 4-187 and put the game right back in the balance as the final passage of the day commenced.
Head goes as Pakistan tighten the screws
Travis Head once again failed to make an impact in the series, falling for 26 after being caught behind off the bowling of Naseem Shah.
Head had looked extremely scratchy for his 26, struggling against the spin and unable to score in his usual free-flowing manner. After winning player of the match in the recent Ashes series, Head has been the only Australian batsman to struggle, his 26 being the highest score of his three knocks.
Pakistan had opted against using the new ball and it proved to be a masterclass as Naseem got the old ball talking, picking up his second wicket of the match with another outstanding piece of reverse-swing bowling.
The wicket left Australia in a precarious position 5-206 and going against a Pakistan bowling attack with their tails up.
Green and Carey see Australia to stumps
Cameron Green and Alex Carey have seen Australia to stumps at 5-232, with the game nicely set up at Stumps on Day 1.
It was an impressive effort for the pair, who saw off seven crucial overs with the new ball to stop the Pakistani surge. The five wickets taken by Pakistan is the most wickets taken on the first day of a match all series.
The Australians will resume tomorrow, hopeful to push their total to around 350.
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