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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Test series: Pat Cummins leads Australia fightback after Pakistan take early honours

Masood had played a gutsy captain’s innings for his eighth Test half-century but frittered all his good work away when he tried to club the ball back over Lyon’s head only to balloon it to Mitch Marsh at point

Reuters Melbourne Published 28.12.23, 06:35 AM
Pat Cummins after dismissing Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique on Day II of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG on Wednesday.

Pat Cummins after dismissing Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique on Day II of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG on Wednesday. AP/PTI

Pakistan threatened to take charge of the second Test after dismissing Australia for 318 and were making a good start to their reply on Wednesday but were reduced to 194 for six at stumps.

The visitors looked in fine shape at 124/1 an hour after tea but will resume on Day III 124 runs in arrears with hopes of a first Test win in Australia since 1995 to level the series at 1-1 fading fast.

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Pat Cummins (3/37) cha­nged the day in two overs, br­illiantly catching Abdullah Shafique for 62 off his own bo­wling and dismissing the dangerman Babar Azam for one with a sublime delivery that had the Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd roaring in
delight.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon also played a leading role in Australia’s fightback, breaking an obdurate opening par­tnership between Imam-Ul-Haq and Shafique before returning to remove Shan Masood for 54.

Masood had played a gutsy captain’s innings for his eighth Test half-century but frittered all his good work away when he tried to club the ball back over Lyon’s head only to balloon it to Mitch Marsh at point.

Josh Hazlewood then ch­ipped in to bowl Saud Shakeel for nine and Cummins returned late in the session to have Agha Salman caught behind for five.

Mohammad Rizwan was unbeaten on 29 at the close of play with Aamer Jamal at the other end.

“I thought we bowled decently before tea without too much reward, they obviously batted quite well,” said skipper Cummins.

“It was good at the end there to get a few big wickets and we feel like we’re well into their order now.

“I thought our batters did well to get over 300, I think the pitch is just going to get better and better.”

The rain which had disrupted the opening day of the Boxing Day Test stayed away but conditions still favoured the bowlers and Pakistan were able to wrap up Australia’s first innings before lunch.

Jamal led the way with 3/64 as the tourists, who have lost 15 successive Tests in
Australia since 1995, took the last seven wickets at the cost of 131 runs.

Marnus Labuschagne top scored with 63 but the 52 extras Pakistan conceded was a reminder of their sloppiness.

Australia won the first Test by an emphatic 360 runs in Pe­rth two weeks ago.

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