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Pakistan openers solid as first Australia Test heads for draw

Abdullah Shafique walks up to congratulate Imam-ul-Haq after the latter’s half-century, Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Rawalpindi, 1st day, March 4, 2022. Photo: AFP

RAWALPINDI: Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique amassed another century stand in batting-practise conditions as Pakistan’s first home Test against Australia in 24 years headed toward a tame draw in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

At tea, Pakistan were 191 without loss in their second innings, with Shafique just a single away from a maiden century and Haq 11 short of what could be his second ton of the Test.

The home team leads by 208 runs after dismissing Australia for 459 in the morning session. Pakistan declared at 476-4 in their first innings.

Australia are on their first tour of Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to visit over security fears.

With a draw assured on an unresponsive Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch, the Pakistan openers took the opportunity for batting practise ahead of the second Test in Karachi from March 12.

In doing so, they became the first Pakistan pair to put on a century opening stand in both innings of a Test after teaming for 105 on Friday.

Shafique has so far hit ten boundaries and a six while Haq — who scored a maiden Test hundred in the first innings — has so far hit seven boundaries and two sixes.

Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali bowled a nagging line and length to mop up the Australian tail early Tuesday and finish with career-best figures of 6-107 in 38.1 overs — his third five-wicket haul in eight Tests.

His effort enabled Pakistan to get the last three wickets with the addition of just 10 runs after Australia resumed on 449-7.

Nauman — whose previous best of 5-35 came on his debut against South Africa in Karachi last year — dismissed Australian skipper Pat Cummins for eight and Nathan Lyon for three in quick succession.

Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi got rid of Mitchell Starc to finish with figures of 2-88 in 30 overs.

Earlier, Pakistan had bowled out Australia for 459 and reached 76 for no loss in their second innings as the opening Test between the teams meandered towards a draw at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

Imam-ul-Haq, who scored a career-best 157 in the first innings, was batting on 40 at the lunch break on the final day.

His breezy knock included a six when he stepped out to hit Nathan Lyon over the off-spinner’s head.

Opening partner Abdullah Shafique was on 33 with the hosts leading by 93 runs in the first match of the three-Test series that marks the beginning of Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in 24 years.

Pakistan took 19 deliveries to claim the last three Australian wickets after the tourists began the final day on 449-7.

Nauman dismissed Australia captain Pat Cummins for eight, and both Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon fell lbw as Australia finished 17 runs behind Pakistan’s first innings total of 476-4 declared.

Each of their top four batsmen crossed the 50-mark but could not convert them into hundreds and the tourists lost their last six wickets for 52 runs.

Left-arm spinner Nauman claimed 6-107 on a flat track where bowlers struggled for success.

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