After Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first in the second test in Abu Dhabi Australia were given little chance of a win. The wicket started to turn virtually straight away – and with far more for the spinners to work with than in Dubai. Mitchell Starc took the first wicket early, proving that he could play on Mars and still be lethal with the new ball, but after that Australia’s vaunted pace attack proved largely toothless.
Nathan Lyon, however, took himself to fourth on the all-time wicket takers for Australia list (behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee) with a brilliant spell to scatter the Pakistani top order. Lyon took 4 wickets in 6 balls in a tight spell before lunch, giving him stats of 4/4 at one stage. Lunchtime saved Pakistan, with the Australians getting overexcited and allowing opener Zaman (who was doing his best Usman Khawaja impression) to build a strong partnership with captain and wicketkeeper Ahmed, with both reaching 94.
Newcomer Marnus Labuschagne was finally the one to break Pakistan open again, dismissing both Zaman and Ahmed along with Asif, the next man up. Mitch Marsh also got in on the act, bowling Shah cleanly before Starc took the final wicket to go with the opening one. Pakistan were left with a total of 282, which is not what they would have hoped for at the start of the day (and a score Australia would have been happy to limit them to) but is significantly higher than expected given they were 5-58 after Lyon’s magic spell.
Australia went in to bat with 7 overs left in the day, and had a horror start to the innings when they lost first test hero Usman Khawaja early. Nightwatchman Peter Siddle was also dismissed, on the last ball of the day. Aaron Finch is still in and will look to continue his run of strong innings, while the Marsh brothers are up next and are – theoretically at least – Australia’s best players of spin in Steve Smith’s absence. Australia are currently 20/2.