Islamabad: Usman Khawaja fell agonisingly short of a hundred as Australia reached 271 for two at the close of play in reply to Pakistan’s total of 476 for four declared on day three of the opening Test today.
Khawaja, who made 97, and David Warner shared an excellent 156-run opening stand for Australia who are making their first tour of Pakistan in 24 years.
Pakistan spinners removed both openers after lunch to inject new life into the stands at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
Marnus Labuschagne was batting on 33 at the tea break with Steve Smith on 12.
Australia, still 205 behind with 8 wickets remaining, scored briskly after resuming on five for no loss. Warner looked in discomfort against Shaheen Afridi and Khawaja could have been dismissed on 22 when the same bowler got the opener to drive away from his body but Fawad Alam spilled a straightforward catch at gully.
It was a costly mistake on a flat track on which bowlers have struggled and only four wickets fell in the first two days. The session also witnessed a little duel between Warner and Naseem Shah.
Warner hit the fast bowler for two boundaries in an over and Naseem responded by bowling into the opener’s body. Warner suffered a blow to his upper arm but laughed it off when Naseem gave him a stare and a piece of his mind.
Khawaja played a spectacular upper-cut against Naseem and took two runs off spinner Sajid Khan to bring up a breezy half-century.
Warner welcomed off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed into the attack by hitting him for three boundaries, the first bringing up his fifty.
Warner made 68, including 12 boundaries, before his middle stump was pegged back as he went on the back foot to play Sajid through the off-side and misjudged the line.
The reverse sweep had been a productive shot for Khawaja but it also cost him his hundred.
Trying to play that stroke against left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, Khawaja was caught by Imam-ul-Haq at forward short leg.
Umpire Aleem Dar had ruled the batsman not out but had to reverse the decision after Pakistan reviewed it and replays confirmed the ball hit Khawaja’s gloves before popping up.