After ending day 1 of the test in Abu Dhabi with honours roughly even – if anything, Australia were slightly on top – another dramatic batting collapse looks to have doomed the test side. After going to stumps on day 1 at 2/20 (with one of those 2 a nightwatchman) Australia would have fancied their chances of batting through the day and building a reasonable score, especially after their second innings in Dubai.
Unfortunately it was not to be. The day opened with Aaron Finch (who has cemented his place in the test line-up for some time this series) and Shaun Marsh, both experienced batsmen who needed to stay in. Unfortunately, the senior Marsh got out for 3. Travis Head, who had an impressive second innings in Dubai, was the next cab off the rank (promoted above Mitch Marsh) and only made 14. The second Marsh did eve n worse, getting out for 13.
Marnus Labuschagne, who impressed with the ball in the first innings, made a good start and built himself to 25 off 49 balls, then got himself out in the stupidest possible way with a run out when he held his bat over the crease. Mitch Starc proved to be the second best batsmen behind Finch, getting to 34. In the end Australia were all out for 145 – well behind Pakistan’s 282.
Pakistan went in to bat feeling confident, even though opener Hafeez (who will be having nightmares about Starc with the new ball) got out early. First innings hero Zaman was also claimed by Nathan Lyon. Australia will need a repeat of Lyon’s first day spell, where he took 4 wickets for no runs in a magical 6 balls, if they are to have any chance of winning – and they will also need to find some grit in their batting.
Pakistan are currently 2/144, 1 run from Australia’s first innings total. With a lead of 281 they have all day to build a colossal total and let the pitch deteriorate further, then force Australia to try and stay in for 2 days to save the test.