With pitch deteriorating, Aussies get themselves into attacking position in second Test against Pakistan

Published March 14, 2022
Australia batter Alex Carey plays a reverse sweep as close-in Pakistan fielder Fawad Alam watches during the second Test at the National Stadium on Sunday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star
Australia batter Alex Carey plays a reverse sweep as close-in Pakistan fielder Fawad Alam watches during the second Test at the National Stadium on Sunday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star

KARACHI: Australia must be licking their lips as they looked forward to pushing hosts Pakistan further into trouble on the third day of the second Test here at the National Stadium.

On Sunday, the tourists ended at 505-8 with the pitch starting to show signs of deterioration and its potential to facilitate pacers with reverse swing and spinners with turn and inconsistent bounce.

Before the surface got tricky, the Australian batters ensured they execute their plan to bat throughout the day, and they did it well.

The star of the day for the visitors was wicket-keeper/batter Alex Carey, who smashed 93 off 159 balls, spending two and a half hours on the crease following Usman Khawaja’s (160 off 369) dismissal who departed after adding 33 to his first day’s contribution.

“I think it’s starting to show signs of inconsistency, lot of spin from this end, there’s a few cracks appearing from the other end,” Carey said about the pitch.

With the surface starting to provide help to the bowlers, Pakistan spinners Sajid Khan and Nauman Ali capitalised on it after a long spell of ‘negative’ bowling on the first day drew criticism towards the hosts.

Sajid stunned Khawaja from round the wicket with a delivery that held its line to dislodge the left-hander’s stumps while he was more than settled on the crease before trapping Travis Head (23 off 48) lbw.

With Carey at 24 on the non-striker’s end, Nauman bamboozled all-rounder Cameron Green (28 off 73) from over the wicket with one that spun from outside the leg stump to hit the top of off.

After Green’s departure, Carey went on to bat almost till the end of the day. His dismissal came in the most unexpected of ways when he missed Babar Azam’s off-spin to see himself castled as the Pakistan skipper came in to bowl the third-last over of the day as the Karachi crowd chanted the captain’s name.

By then Australia had already crossed 500 runs with Carey putting up 98 runs off 198 with tailender Mitchell Starc for the eighth wicket.

While Pakistan asked questions with spin, there were short periods where pacers Shaheen and Hasan Ali attempted to make hay of reverse swing at play, but both stayed wicket-less.

Carey believed that with the hot weather in Karachi, the Pakistan quicks’ hard work was commendable but Australia handled reverse swing with expertise.

“It’s a pretty difficult ask for the quicks to keep coming up in this weather,” Carey said.

“The way we played it [reverse swing] probably made them make a decision to persist with that or not.

“When I went out to bat, they had the quicks coming from one end, I think we handled it pretty well.”

If there was one pacer who could make some impact for Pakistan, it was all-rounder Faheem Ashraf. The right-armer got Pakistan their first breakthrough of the day when he bowled night-watchman Nathan Lyon early on to get his second wicket.

Lyon, however, utilised his time on the crease well, smashing five fours in his knock of 38 off 62.

Faheem said Pakistan stuck to their plan despite not getting many wickets. The 28-year-old echoed Carey’s thoughts on the hosts’ utilisation of reverse swing.

“Our bowlers tried very hard and the weather is really hot but Australia handled it very well,” he said.

Faheem admitted that the pitch was “opening up” and that could mean Pakistan batters would have a tough task at hand. He was hopeful, however, that his team-mates would not make it easy for Australia.


AUSTRALIA (1st Innings, overnight 251-3):

D. Warner c Rizwan b Faheem 36

Usman Khawaja b Sajid 160

M. Labuschagne run out 0

S. Smith c Faheem b Hasan 72

N. Lyon b Faheem 38

T. Head lbw b Sajid 23

C. Green b Nauman 28

A. Carey b Babar 93

M. Starc not out 28

P. Cummins not out 0

EXTRAS (B-10, LB-5, NB-7, W-5) 27

TOTAL (for eight wkts, 180 overs) 505

DID NOT BAT: M. Swepson

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-82 (Warner), 2-91 (Labuschagne), 3-250 (Smith), 4-304 (Lyon), 5-347 (Head), 6-360 (Khawaja), 7-405 (Green), 8-503 (Carey)

BOWLING (to-date): Shaheen 30-8-85-0 (4nb); Hasan 24-7-67-1 (2nb); Faheem 21-4-55-2; Sajid 54-10-151-2 (3w); Nauman 45-6-115-1 (2w); Babar 4-0-7-1; Azhar 2-0-10-0 (1nb)

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2022



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