As expected, Australia had to toil hard on a docile Dubai stadium pitch with Pakistan openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq dominated with brilliant knocks on the opening day of the first Test in Dubai on Sunday.
Hafeez, not in the original squad and was only inducted to the squad after his double hundred in a domestic match in Faisalabad, scored 126 spread over four hours and 38 minutes and laid the foundation with a solid 205-run opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq who made his highest Test score of 76.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won a crucial toss and instantly decided to bat first on a pitch which has no grass and was ideal for batting, with expectations that it will take spin from day three.
But after two wicketless sessions, Australia rallied with wickets of Hafeez, Imam and, more importantly, that of Azhar Ali for just 18.
Azhar was lured into a drive which safely landed in Mitchell Starc’s hands at mid-off as all the Australian celebrated the important wicket.
But the day belonged to Hafeez, who was so surprisingly kept out of the Test team when Pakistan lost 2-0 to Sri Lanka in UAE last year. Hafeez proved he is the most successful batsman in UAE with his third hundred here and tenth overall.
It had 15 boundaries and the power to prove that he is one of the best on these pitches and it was a big mistake not playing him in last year’s series, which Pakistan lost 2-0 to Sri Lanka.
Australia had a late surge as they took three wickets with the most important one of Azhar Ali, caught off a loose shot off Jon Holland for 18.
But Hafeez and Imam left Australia frustrated in the first two sessions. There was only one chance when on 74 Hafeez miscued a shot off Holland and Michell marsh failed to grab a tough chance at long-off.
Imam had seven boundaries and two sixes in his knock, improving on his 74 not out he made against win over Ireland in May this year.
Nathan Lyon had provided the breakthrough, forcing a cut off Imam and had him caught behind. Hafeez was trapped leg before with a delivery that slightly came slow on him.