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Pakistan finish day at 126/2, 412 runs behind hosts' first-innings total with both batsmen having hit unbeaten fifties.

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By Abdullah Ansari (4th January, 2017)

Toss: Australia won the toss, Steve Smith opted to bat first.

Teams

Australia: MT Renshaw, DA Warner, UT Khawaja, SPD Smith (c), PSP Handscomb, HWR Cartwright, MS Wade (wk), MA Starc, SNJ O'Keefe, JR Hazlewood, NM Lyon.

Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan.

Pakistan's opening bowlers started with a fairly new ball under slightly overcast skies but Amir and Imran failed to get much swing. Renshaw did edge one but it fell well short of Younis at second slip. The opener played a couple of superb shots before his innings came to an end as he chopped one onto his stumps from Imran Khan, out for a brilliant 184. Handscomb got to his fifty while debutant Cartwright started off positively. The bowlers tried to build some pressure with tight bowling but the support from the fielders wasn't there. Yasir beat Cartwright with a flighted one which spun but Sarfraz failed to collect, with a stumping chance missed. Azhar came on to bowl an over before Lunch and got Cartwright to edge one with a good leg-break but Younis grassed the straightforward chance at slip with the hosts going to the break at 453/4.

Yasir didn't return to the field after the break with a suspected hamstring injury, with Azhar taking over and bowling a longer spell. He got a little more bit off the surface than Yasir while Imran returned to bowl another tight spell. The pacer got his reward as he bowl a good length delivery that seamed in a touch to have the debutant bowled for 37. Handscomb, meanwhile, motored along towards his hundred. He finally got to it, off 195 balls to massive applause. Wade started positively as well as the hosts surpassed 500. Wahab was the one to make the breakthrough in peculiar circumstances as Handscomb went deep into his crease and just nudged his stumps while playing a shot to be out hit wicket for 110. Starc took Azhar for a big six but the leg-spinner removed Wade as he skied one for an easy catch. Starc got another six off Azhar before he skied one, with Rizwan taking a stunning catch whilst avoiding a collision with Wahab. Australia chose to declare after that dismissal at 538/8.

Pakistan's innings got off to a disastous start with the debutant Sharjeel trying to play at a length delivery outside off, ending up nicking it to the slips for just 4. Babar followed after four deliveries, as he played around a straight one from Hazlewood and was plumb LBW with Pakistan going to Tea at 16/2.

The evening session started with Pakistan soon gifting an opportunity to Australia as Younis called Azhar for a run before sending him back, with the opener stranded. However, Warner took a shy at the stumps and missed, rather than giving the ball to the bowlers to dislodge the bails. Azhar was solid while Younis looked to be posititve to keep the scoreboard moving along. The debutant Cartwright came on to bowl and struggled with the batsmen finding his pace to be suitable to score runs off regularly. The visitors then once again gave Australia a chance with Azhar this time calling Younis and then sending him back, but Warner again missed the stumps. Younis then appeared to play and miss one from Starc but replays on Snicko appeared to show a spike at the moment the ball passed the bat, but none of the fielders picked up the apparent edge. The veteran got to his fifty with a booming cover drive while Azhar also reached the milestone, for the fourth match in a row. Australia created one more chance with Azhar inside edging one from Lyon to Warner at leg-slip but the Australian couldn't hang on, as Pakistan finished the day at 126/2.

Summary: A better show by Pakistan on Day 2 - the bowling was more consistent despite the amount of runs that were scored with Imran and Wahab in particular bowling a couple of good spells. Azhar also did decently in his extended spell after Yasir's injury, showing he can be an option for a fifth bowler, albeit an expensive one. However, Australia still got to a massive score and will be looking for a big win. Pakistan's nervy start would have only made things worse for the tourists' nerves but Azhar and Younis showed good composure to make it through the rest of the day without losing a wicket while keeping the scoreboard moving along in good batting conditions. Another tough day awaits the visitors - a few quick wickets by Australia will put Pakistan in deep trouble once again. Azhar and Younis need to make their innings count on a pitch that is very good for batting so far.

Fall of wickets:

4-386 (Renshaw, 93.6 ov)
5-477 (Cartwright, 123.5 ov)
6-516 (Handscomb, 131.5 ov)
7-532 (Wade, 134.4 ov)
8-538 (Starc, 134.6 ov)

1-6 (Sharjeel Khan, 3.1 ov)
2-6 (Babar Azam, 3.5 ov)

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