Islamabad: Australia came close to matching Pakistan’s first innings total of 476-4 declared in the opening Test as the run-feast in Rawalpindi appeared to be heading for a dull draw today.
Wet outfield caused by overnight rain not only wiped out the entire morning session on day four but also effectively dashed prospects of victory by either side in Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in 24 years.
The touring side finished the penultimate day on 449-7, 27 runs behind, after four days of bat dominating ball on a flat track at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
Mitchell Starc was on 12 when bad light stopped play with skipper Pat Cummins on four at the other end.
Marnus Labuschagne made 90 and Steve Smith contributed 78 in a strong batting performance by the tourists.
Pace and bounce
“It’s a pretty benign wicket. There’s not a great deal of pace and bounce in it for the seamers,” Smith told reporters.
“Thought it would break up a little bit more, probably turn a bit more from the start, but it probably hasn’t done so.”
Earlier, Pakistan struck twice in the morning session after the delayed start to the penultimate day’s action.
Armed with the second new ball, Shaheen Afridi induced a loose drive from Labuschagne and Abdullah Shafique dived to his right to take a sharp catch in the slip.
Labuschagne’s fluent knock included 12 boundaries.
Travis Head made eight before edging spinner Nauman Ali and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan took a smart catch behind the stumps.
Cameron Green (48), who was not even born when Australia last toured Pakistan in 1998, began well but fell short of what could have been the fifth half-century in their top six.
Green fluffed his sweep short against Nauman to find Iftikhar at short fine leg.
Left-arm spinner Nauman kept bowling outside the leg-stump, which also earned him the prize wicket of Smith who gloved a ball to Rizwan attempting a sweep shot.
Smith was the fourth batsman in Australia’s top four who passed the 50-mark but could not convert it into a hundred.
Alex Carey made 19 but never looked convincing and eventually lost his off-stump to fast bowler Naseem Shah.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam brought himself in for the final over of the day but Starc and Cummins had no problem in dealing with his innocuous part-time off-spin.
Nauman’s 4-107 was impressive on a batting-friendly track and the 35-year-old attributed it to his patient approach.
“The ball was not turning much from the middle, so I tried to bowl into the rough areas and use those patches, which earned me a couple of wickets,” he told reporters.
“Tomorrow we’d try to bowl them out as quickly as possible and I’m optimistic of a five-wicket haul.”