Australian quicks rock Pakistan after lunch


SYDNEY: Australia’s pacemen found their length after lunch to take four wickets at the cost of three runs in one spell and leave Pakistan rocking at 125 for five at tea on the opening day of the first test in Brisbane on Thursday.

Frustrated by openers Azhar Ali and Shan Masood in the opening session at the Gabba, the Australian quicks removed both in three balls after the break before swiftly adding the wickets of Haris Sohail and Babar Azam for one run apiece.

Iftikhar Ahmed initially looked like he might engineer a recovery from 78-4 but off-spinner Nathan Lyon sent him packing for seven with the opening ball of his first post-lunch spell.

Asad Shafiq will resume for the final session on 18 not out along with Mohammad Rizwan, who was unbeaten on 19, but the Pakistani optimism from earlier in the day was long gone.

Captain Ali won the toss on a sunny morning and he and Masood saw off Australia’s early charge with some disciplined batting that steered the tourists to lunch on 57 without loss.

Pat Cummins, the top-ranked bowler in test cricket, had Masood in all sorts of trouble after the resumption, however, and it was no surprise when the lefthander nicked a rising delivery into the hands of Steve Smith for 27.

Josh Hazlewood struck at the start of the next over with a full delivery that Ali (39) caught with an outside edge and was well taken by Joe Burns in the slips.

The third member of the pace unit, Mitchell Starc, got into the act to remove Sohail for one before the Hazlewood-Burns combination sent back Pakistan’s best batsman Azam.

The tourists, who have never won a series in Australia, handed a test debut to 16-year-old fast bowler Naseem Shah and omitted experienced seamer Mohammad Abbas.