Day 1 of the second Test in Abu Dhabi was another fruitless one in the field for Australia, as Pakistan powered to 2-304 at stumps thanks to an unbeaten 208-run stand by century-makers Azhar Ali and Younis Khan.
It was a particularly tough day out for Australian captain Michael Clarke, who did not get the team he wanted – with Glenn Maxwell the surprise replacement for out-of-form No.3 Alex Doolan – and came under fire for some controversial field placings.
Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammed Hafeez made a bright start, before Shehzad was trapped lbw by Nathan Lyon for 35 with the score at 57. Johnson had Hafeez caught behind for 45 to leave Pakistan’s innings evenly poised at 2-96.
But Azhar and Younis rode their luck to demoralise the tourists, surviving numerous leg-before shouts, run-out attempts and sharp catching chances to each bring up triple figures.
The incomparable Younis posted his third straight century, bringing up the ton in 128 balls and finishing the day 111no, including 10 fours and a six. Azhar’s milestone came in the last over of the day, raising the bat after a cautious and gutsy 223-ball stay at the crease, overcoming back problems early in his innings.
Australia’s over rate was as sluggish as the Abu Dhabi pitch, and Clarke used eight different bowlers for little reward, Maxwell’s selection ahead of Doolan and Mitchell Starc coming in for Stephen O’Keefe paying no dividend thus far.
Clarke’s aggressive umbrella field also failed to get the desired results, while his stationing of fieldsman behind the bowler’s arm drew criticism from one of his greatest predecessors, Allan Border, who mused it was against the spirit of the game.
Stud of the day
Yet again, it was Younis. With Azhar dropping anchor at the other end, Younis played some brilliant shots to keep the score ticking along a little below four an over, regularly lofting down the ground against Australia’s hapless slow bowlers. Man-of-the-series honours are virtually already assured, while he has the opportunity to post a big score on Day 2.
Clarke’s use of the review system came up empty time and again. Deciding against referring an lbw shout off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh – with the score on just 128 – proved to be the wrong call, while the two he did send upstairs (leg-before chances off Maxwell and Steve Smith) proved woefully ill-advised.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) October 30, 2014
It’s another big mountain to climb for the embattled Clarke and the struggling Aussies, who badly need to dislodge Younis and Azhar early on Day 2 to have any chance of turning the tide. Pakistan can smell a historic 2-0 series triumph and will be looking to push past 500 before sending the weary tourists in during the last session.
Younis Khan became the first batsman to rack up three consecutive centuries against Australia since legendary Englishman Bert Sutcliffe in 1924-25. He is just the 35th player to score three tons in a row, but remarkably, the feat has now been achieved three times this year – Sri Lankan’s Kumar Sangakarra and Australian opener David Warner have both done it in 2014.