14/04/2024

Steve Smith was well in the zone but again fell short of his century, edging behind for 78 on Day 4. Image: cricket.com.au

In a day for the cricket purists, Australia brought themselves close to parity with the first Test in Rawalpindi destined for a draw as Australia will enter Day 5 still trailing Pakistan’s first innings score.

In a day for the cricket purists, Australia brought themselves close to parity with the first Test in Rawalpindi destined for a draw as Australia will enter Day 5 still trailing Pakistan’s first innings score.

After an overnight storm delayed the start of play by two hours due to a wet outfield, The Australian batters looked largely untroubled before falling short of centuries with big scores in the offing.

Nauman Ali was the chief destroyer for the home side, picking up three wickets for the day.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day 4 in Rawalpindi: 

Smith and Labuschagne pick up where they left off after delayed start

An overnight downpour and a wet outfield delayed the arrival of both teams to the ground on the fourth morning. The sky was blue with no clouds to be seen, but the still and cool conditions in Rawalpindi meant that the surface water on the outfield took longer than planned to clean up.

The first session was lost before play finally got underway for Day four with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne resuming their partnership overnight. They continued where they left off, looking largely untroubled against the Pakistani spinners who were trying to get through overs in the first part of the day to get to that second new ball.

Another century goes begging as the new ball claims Marnus

With the new ball taken, Babar Azam called back his quick bowlers to try and find something in the docile Pindi pitch with the hard new ball.

As Marnus used the hardness of the new ball to his advantage, flashing drives away to take his score to the 90 and within touching distance of his first century outside Australia.

But the first century away from home will have to wait for the World’s Number one ranked Test batter, as he edged off to the slips for 90.

In the fifth over with the new ball, Shaheen Shah Afridi caught the outside edge of Labuschagne, which carried to a diving Abdullah Shafique at first slip. Leaving another Australian batter dismissed in the nineties this innings.

Travis Head was the next man in and became the first batter in the Test match to be dismissed for a single figure score, edging behind Rizwan for eight of Nauman Ali before drinks were called.

Smith, Green see Australia through to tea as lead dwindles

After Travis Head came and went, with Australia still 150 in arrears, Cameron Green came to the crease for his first international innings overseas. A big moment for the young cricketer facing his biggest test away from home.

Aided by Smith at the other end, who passed 50 himself, becoming the fourth batter in the innings to do so, Green slowly started to get into his work, looking compact at the crease and watching the ball carefully onto the bat. Putting the bad ball away when it was there to be punished.

The pair took Australia through to the Tea break just over 100 runs behind as they continued to build into the Pakistani’s total.

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Green throws a big score away as Nauman creates his third

When Green and Smith resumed after the Tea break, Green decided to take on the role as the aggressor in the partnership. As Smith slowly accumulated at the other end, Green started opening his shoulders and started feasting on a tiring Pakistani attack.

Looking to manufacture something, Babar brought Nauman Ali back into the attack after a brief spell from century-maker Imam ul-Haq and looked to buy a wicket out of an Australian mistake.

The left armer coming over the wicket to the right-hander, Nauman tossed one wide of the pitch which Green chased, searching to pull it over short fine-leg to go to his half-century. The ball caught the edge of his bat which spooned up Iftikar Ahmed at short fine-leg to dismiss the Australian allrounder. Giving Nauman his third scalp of the innings.

Nauman strangles Smith out of the rough short of another ton

After Green departed and Alex Carey came to the wicket, Carey looked to get inventive and Smith tried to up the ante again as he eyed off what would have been only his second Test century in 18 months.

A Nauman Ali started another over, coming over the wicket to the right-handed Smith, Smith started getting inventive and looked to swat the ball across the line and try to hit him out of the attack. Attempted reverse sweep after attempted reverse sweep, Smith grew increasingly frustrated and pressure began to build up.

Nauman bowled a ball wide outside leg stump which again, Smith tried to reverse sweep away and get down the other end. The ball caught Smith’s glove and was well held by Rizwan behind the stumps, sending Smith on his way for 78.

Visibly angry with himself as he trudged off, Nauman was celebrating his fourth Australian victim as Australia lost their sixth wicket still 52 runs behind Pakistan’s first innings score.

It extends Smith’s lean century scoring patch, scoring only the one Test hundred at the SCG in 2021.

Naseem strikes late as the draw looms large

Just as it looked that Mitchell Starc and Alex Carey were going to see Australia through to stumps, Babar Azam brought teenager Naseem Shah back into the attack for a final blast before the end of the day.

After a loosener first up, Naseem came around the wicket to the left-handed Alex Carey and bowled him with a beautiful in-swinging ball that hit the top of the off-stump. Bowled for 19.

It was a decisive late blow to the Australians which meant that the skipper Pat Cummins had to come out and face a tricky little period to end the day.

Bad light once again brought a premature end to the day’s play, but despite the delay at the beginning, this was the latest that we had played too throughout the Test Match. Australia reached Stumps  7-449, Still trailing by 27 runs

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