Nathan Lyon chipped in with a handy 38 before he was Pakistan’s only wicket of the session
Lunch Australia 332 for 4 (Khawaja 155*, Head 14*) vs Pakistan
Australia were a commanding 332 for 4 at lunch with Pakistan-born Khawaja 155 not out and Travis Head unbeaten on 14. Khawaja’s 339-ball innings threatens to break the back of Pakistan, who appeared bereft of ideas and are on the brink of being shut out of this pivotal match after the first Test in Rawalpindi ended in a stale draw.
Much like his dominant opening day, Khawaja batted patiently and added just 28 runs to his overnight total as Australia eyed a massive first innings total having won a crucial toss on a batting-friendly pitch. With Australia resuming at 251 for 3, Khawaja continued to be the fulcrum with his concentration unwavering marked by relentless defence. He also remained ruthless against loose deliveries, particularly picking off errant quick Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Khawaja notched his 150 off 322 balls and is poised to surpass his highest Test score of 174 against New Zealand at the Gabba in 2015. Player of the Ashes Head, who was the only specialist batter in Rawalpindi to not reach double figures, is hoping to cash in on a pitch still skewed towards batting and his confidence was underlined through several booming square drives.
After toiling for just three wickets on day one, where their defensive tactics were questioned, Pakistan struggled to make inroads with a relatively new ball and failed to probe on a pitch offering a hint of reverse swing.
Offspinner Sajid Khan, who had minimal impact on the opening day, looked threatening at times but couldn’t conjure notable turn on a pitch expected to spin as the match progresses.
After memorably scoring a century on day one in the city his family hails from, Khawaja was mostly a bystander in the first hour as he took a back seat to nightwatchman Nathan Lyon who dominated a 54-run partnership with an attractive 38.
He played mostly fluently after surviving a huge lbw shout on 3 from quick Hasan Ali but the not out decision remained after an umpire’s call on review. Lyon, who came to the crease in the penultimate over of day one after Steve Smith fell for 72, then frustrated Pakistan by counterattacking Shaheen’s bumper barrage.
In trademark cavalier fashion, Lyon was unperturbed by the stacked leg slide field as he swiftly increased the run rate, which had crawled for Australia in the back half of the opening day due to negative bowling from Pakistan.
His good fortune continued on 31 when allrounder Faheem Ashraf was unable to take his second gem of a catch in the innings after a return catch failed to stick in his outstretched left hand.
Lyon suddenly eyed a maiden Test half-century with his previous highest score of 47 struck against South Africa during the infamous Newlands Test in 2018. Much to Pakistan’s relief, Lyon’s enterprising knock finally ended when he was comprehensively bowled by Ashraf, who has been the pick of Pakistan’s bowlers with 2 for 47 from 18 overs.
But it proved Pakistan’s only success of the session, as they continued to wilt under the stout bat of Khawaja amid hot conditions in their fortress of Karachi, where the temperature again hovers in the mid-30s.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth