The bat once again dominated proceedings on day five of the first test between Australia and Pakistan at Rawalpindi.
After Australia lost 3/10 in the first half-hour of play, Both Pakistani openers raised their bats for centuries and finished the day unbeaten as the home side again batted untroubled without losing a single wicket. All before an early finish was called between the two captains as no result other than a dour draw was possible.
Here are the moments that mattered from the final day in Rawalpindi:
Pakistan clean up Australian tail, Nauman takes bag of six
After Pakistan claimed the scalp of Alex Carey late on day four, the final recognised batter departed the crease. Still trailing by 27 runs, Australia looked to the tail to claim the lead back, but Nauman Ali had other ideas.
Nauman would claim his first scalp of the day when Pat Cummins looked to go over the top but was removed in just the third over of the day for just eight runs. The wicket gave Nauman his third five-wicket haul in his career.
Captain Babar Azam then turned to fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi to claim the next wicket, which he did, trapping fellow paceman Mitchell Starc for LBW for 13. Starc quickly sent it for review, but his challenge was unsuccessful.
Nauman then picked up his final wicket of the innings, claiming opposing spinner Nathan Lyon for just three runs. Australia was bowled out for 459, trailing by 17 runs on the first innings.
Australia burns a review as Pakistani openers settle in
With both Pakistani openers settled at the crease, Australian skipper Pat Cummins turned to part-time spinner Marnus Labuschagne for a breakthrough. The energetic part-timer came oh so close to breaking through in his first over.
Labuschagne had Shafique in an awkward position, and when the umpire deemed the decision not out. After a brief discussion between bowler, keeper, and captain, decided to send it upstairs for a review.
The initial replay looked to be good for the Australians, and just when it seemed as they were about to get their first breakthrough, Ball tracking showed that the impact of the ball would be outside the line and Shafique survived.
Pakistan steadied, finding themselves 0/76 at the lunch break, leading by 93 runs.
Shafique, Imam reach milestones as Pakistan progress
Both Abdullah Shafique and Imam Ul-Haq were in complete control throughout the early period of session two on day five.
Having survived the difficult early period just after the lunch break, Both Shafique and Ul-Haq began to relax at the crease. Soon enough, both openers would raise the bat for half-centuries as they looked to continue grinding Australia’s bowlers into the ground.
After his maiden Test ton in the first innings, Imam would take somewhat of a backseat role throughout the majority of the innings, before a fantastic reverse sweep allowed him to bring up 50.
Meanwhile, Shafique would play the role of aggressor, taking on the pace of the Aussie quicks, as well as the spin of Nathan Lyon, his milestone complete with six boundaries.
This would have Pakistan in complete control at the drinks break. Australia, still wicketless with Pakistan finding themselves 0/111.
Pakistan pile on the runs into the Tea break
The second session consisted of more pain for the Australians, with both Shafique and Imam getting increasingly more expansive as the session progressed.
Shafique continued to get on the front foot against the Australian bowlers and particularly fancied himself against the spin in the Australian attack. With Cummins opting to rest his faster bowlers due to a heavy workload, Head, Smith, Lyon, and Labuschagne took on most of the bowling responsibilities on a flat wicket, Shafique got on the advance, and even cleared the ropes. This meant he found himself on 99* off 182 deliveries heading into the third and final session of the match.
Imam also found the boundary on multiple occasions throughout the middle session, taking the Australian bowlers on as he also continued batting tremendously. Imam would be eleven runs shy of the century at the break, chasing twin tons in a Test match.
Pakistan would be 0/199 at the tea break, as it continued to look like batting practice for the next two matches on the final day in Rawalpindi.
Shafique reaches maiden Test ton
Abdullah Shafique would reach his maiden Test century in the second over of the final session, with a clip off the pads for four. It is an outstanding reward for Shafique, after he missed out in the first innings, His innings, which involved boundaries galore, was a joy to watch as he achieved the three-figure score off 183 deliveries.
Imam backs up first innings with a pair of centuries at Pindi
After surviving a shout on 94*, and Pat Cummins opting not to review, replays showed that Imam Ul-Haq escaped enormous trouble and would have been out, had Australia sent the decision upstairs.
Imam brought the term ‘nervous nineties’ to full fruition as he edged closer to a century. After escaping danger on 94, Ul-Haq would find himself in a sticky situation when he was just three short of triple figures. Australia believed they had a wicket, but technology would once again deny the Aussies and Imam survived the scare.
With an attacking stroke down the ground, Imam brought up his second century of the match in a brilliant display of compact batting throughout the entirety of the match. Imam became just the 11th Pakistani batter to score twin centuries in Test cricket
Time called as captains shake hands for a draw
After the mandatory 77 overs were bowled in Pakistan’s innings, it was decided between the umpires, and captains of both sides to shake hands and settle for a draw on what was an underwhelming wicket in Rawalpindi.
One of the lighthearted moments of the match came in the final over of the match when Pakistani-born and Australian opener Usman Khawaja bowling the final over of the match.
The score would finish with Pakistan 0/252, as Abdullah Shafique made 136* from 242 deliveries, while Imam Ul-Haq finished with 111* off 2223 deliveries in what was an impressive performance with the bat.
The next test, to be played in Karachi, is due to start on Saturday from 4 pm AEST.
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