The Australian cricket team are hanging on by a fingernail in Abu Dhabi after being set a formidable target of 538 for the final innings. With two days to bat they have enough time to chase the win, but that depends on the batsmen being able to stay in – with Usman Khawaja injured and potentially unable to take part at all.
Pakistan saw off Australia’s bowling attack to score 400/9 (declared) in their second innings, with Mitchell Starc looking very out of sorts and only bowling 7 overs despite taking the opening wicket (which seems to be his speciality). This left Nathan Lyon as Australia’s only recognised front line bowler, but his 4 wickets weren’t enough.
Khawaja’s injury meant that Shaun Marsh stepped up to the opening batsman role, and promptly got out for 4 runs from 6 balls. Travis Head was promoted to 3 and sent in to partner Aaron Finch (who has massively bolstered his test stocks this series) and saw out the day. Finch and Head are scoring at a reasonable rate, and if the Aussie batsmen can stay in and keep the run rate up they have enough time to win the test.
Shaun Marsh’s failure will likely be the end of his test career, as the reason for picking him was his experience, his ability against spin and the hope that he could bring some consistency to the batting in Steve Smith’s absence. To be fair, he has been consistent – he has failed in all four innings this series. Mitch Marsh will also need a very high score when he goes out to bat – he has been awful with the bat and mediocre with the ball.
Marnus Labuschagne is another player under threat, after a toothless debut in the first test of the series. However he has impressed with the ball in the second test and got a good start in the first innings before an incredibly careless run out. Head will firm for the India home series this summer if he can go on and make a decent score in this innings (he is currently on 17).