They made Australia toil for 82 overs in a far cry to Pakistan’s toothless first innings of 148
Pakistan 148 and 192 for 2 (Babar 102*, Shafique 71*, Green 1-15) need another 314 runs to beat Australia 556 for 9 dec and 97 for 2 dec (Khawaja 44*, Labuschagne 44, Afridi 1-21)
Needing to survive 172 overs, Pakistan were 192 for 2 at stumps on day four with Babar on 102* and Shafique unbeaten on 71. Pakistan still need another 314 runs for an unlikely record-setting victory, but have made Australia toil through 82 overs in a far cry to their toothless first innings of 148.
Having played a lone hand in Pakistan’s first innings, Babar notched his sixth Test century – his first in two years – with a sweep over fine leg just before stumps. He let out a roar amid jubilation from a sparse crowd after which he and Shafique survived two overs against the second new ball and made it through to the close.
After Pakistan were reeling at 21 for 2, Babar and Shafique combined for a rousing partnership of 171 to thwart Australia’s attack and provide a flicker of hope for the hosts, who had been hapless for most of this match previously.
With oppressive conditions in Karachi throughout the match, the pitch is marked by widening cracks in a contrast to the docile Rawalpindi deck amid a stale first Test draw. There was sharp turn and variable bounce evident, particularly earlier in Pakistan’s innings, but the pitch did not appear to deteriorate as the day wore on.
Babar and Shafique were mostly untroubled, and blunted the bowling through almost two sessions in somewhat of a throwback to Rawalpindi when Australia claimed just four wickets in 239 overs. The visitors were left to rue two early chances against first-Test centurion Shafique, who started slowly before finding fluency after being joined at the crease by a positive Babar.
Full report to follow…
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth