ISLAMABAD, Pakistani bowlers proved lethal for the Australian batters on day four of the first Test, which seems to head towards a course of no victory for either team, at the Pindi Stadium, Rawalpindi.
The rain poured overnight and the play was delayed for more than three hours due to the wet outfield. The play for day four started at 1 pm Pakistan time and spinner Nauman Ali bowled the first over (74th) who didn’t even know that this would be his day to prove the most effective force with the ball.
However, the new ball was taken in the 81st over by Shaheen Shah Afridi who came out strong on day four as he broke the the108-run partnership stand between Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith. Marnus who was just 10 runs behind (90) his century was edged and taken at slip by Abdullah Shafique. Marcus’s innings of 158 balls also included 12 fours.
Travis Head 8, was next to go as he was caught behind. Travis was very well taken by wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan.
Meanwhile, Smith also followed in the footprints of his top four country-mates to bring up his 34th half-century for Australia in Naseem Shah’s over. He was received by large applause from the Pakistani fans. The last time the top four batters from Australia all got 50-plus scores in an overseas Test match was in 2008 against India.
Cameron Green (18) and Smith (61) were also dismissed by Nauman, who took three wickets in a row. Green was top-edged and taken at short fine leg by Iftikhar Ahmed when he was just two runs behind to reach his half-century (48).
While, Smith who was looking stable at the crease attempted to sweep but it caught the gloves and was well held by Rizwan. Smith went on 78 off 196 balls including 8 fours.
Youngster Naseem Shah also put in his share in Australia’s dismissals before the stumps on day four, as he bold Alex Carey in his 21st over on a beautiful delivery. Naseem angled in on a good length to beat Carey (19 runs off 70), defending inside the line. Imam ul Haq and Skipper Babar Azam also tried their luck in to bowl two and one over, respectively but went empty.
Australia who trailed by 205 on day three, were 449 for 7 on day four, still 27 runs behind on the first innings.
Speaking at the end of day four, Nauman said passion was needed when you are playing against a quality team like Australia.
About getting wickets, he said, “The pitch was slow and we were not getting turn. I tried and got wickets. I have been practicing with Saqlain Mushtaq in the academy prior to the series and in the camp at Karachi was very useful. I gained a lot of confidence from it,” he said.
He said after day three, we talked with Saqlain bhai and Skipper Babar Azam after which we planned and bowled on the rough areas of the pitch and got wickets.
“Both teams batted well and good partnerships were seen in the match. Both teams will try to get a result out of the match. We will try to take all their wickets on day five and see the plan ahead,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian cricketer Steven Smith said the wicket didn’t had pace and bounce, but spinners got it a little bit. “I’m disappointed on my short selection as I could have got a big score,” he said.
To a question, he said, “We are seven down and 27 behind it will be too difficult to push forward.”