Pakistan were in total control of the second Test after the third day in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, having pushed Australia hard for a series-clinching victory.
Pakistan batsmen enjoyed a day full of runs and a bizarre run out of Azhar Ali but left the stadium in a strong position needing another nine wickets for a 1-0 win in the series following a morale-sapping draw in the first in Dubai.
Australia, set a target of 538 in 12 overs and two full days to survive, started on a wrong foot when Usman Khawaja could not open because of a knee injury They lost Shaun Marsh for four for Mir hamza’s first wicket.
They closed the day at 47-1 with defeat staring in their face. Aaron Finch was unbeaten on 24 and with him Travis Head on 17 as they face an uphill task of batting for two full days.
Babar finally lived up to his potential albeit in a pressure-less situation. He improved upon his previous best of 90 not out he made against New Zealand at Hamilton. A century was for his taking, a pitch not very difficult and a tiring bowling attack with very little bite. But he missed an incoming delivery from Mitchell Marsh and was adjudged leg-before on 99 runs. He frustratingly reviewed the decision only to see umpire not changing his decision.
But the funniest thing happened in the first session which left everyone laughing and Azhar in an embarrassing situation. Such things can only happen to Pakistani batsmen. Azhar had edged a Peter Siddle delivery to the third man and without realizing that the ball had not crossed the ropes started to discuss world issues and what menu they will have at lunch with Asad Shafiq in the middle of the pitch.
Mitchell Starc picked the ball just a meter from the boundary, threw it to an excited Tim Paine who whipped the bails to run out Azhar. Once it was dawned on Azhar that he became a goof he trudged back to the pavilion after scoring 64. It was a stage where he should have gone on for a hundred but his absent-mindedness cost him dearly.
Asad has also been not scoring big despite useful conditions, having been dismissed for nought in the first innings. Here he made 44 and played a lazy shot off Marnus Labuschagne, had Pakistan not been in the lead it would have been a costly dismissal.
Sarfraz again played with confidence and resolve but missed another chance of scoring his fourth hundred, sweeping loosely to Labuschagne and was leg before for 81.