A stoic ton from Younis Khan has ensured honours were shared on an arduous Day 1 of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai, despite the tireless wicket-taking efforts of Mitchell Johnson.
Pakistan finished the day at 4-219, but only after Younis’ painstaking 106 off 223 balls that rescued his team from a disastrous start following their decision to bat.
Johnson had Mohammad Hafeez leg-before in the first over with an unplayable yorker, and Pakistan was reeling at 2-7 when Peter Siddle rattled Ahmed Shehzad’s leg stump.
But Azhar Ali and Younis righted the ship, belatedly pushing the run-rate past two an over after lunch and putting on 108 for the third wicket before Alex Doolan caught Ali for 53 off Johnson’s bowling.
Younis and captain Misbah-ul-Haq then combined for an 83-run stand that included Younis bringing up his richly-deserved century with a towering six off Nathan Lyon.
Johnson struck again with 10 overs of Day 1 remaining, though, trapping Younis in front. Misbah-ul-Haq (34no) and Asad Shafiq (9no) saw off the Australian bowlers till stumps.
Stud of the day
Johnson was a menace, claiming 3 wickets off 20 overs and conceding a miserly 22 runs. But Younis was the hero of the day. The veteran’s lionhearted innings saved Pakistan from a perilous opening-day situation. He also created history, becoming the first Pakistan player – and the 12th player overall – to record centuries against all nine other Test-playing nations, while he equalled Inzamam Ul Haq’s national record of 25 Test tons. It was a character-laden effort from the 36-year-old, who was recently dumped from Pakistan ODI side.
Chris Rogers put down a very tough chance off Johnson’s bowling just before lunch, a low catch that would have sent Azhar Ali packing for 22 and left an under-siege Pakistan in deep trouble at 3-47. As it turned out, Azhar and Younis put on another 58 runs after the interval.
Australia needs early wickets, because chasing a first-innings total of 350-plus will look like a mountain in the hot and humid Dubai conditions. The tourists can’t allow unflappable skipper Misbah and in-form Asad to get comfortable. With Johnson in devastating touch, a sub-300 total is still very much a possibility, but he needs support at the other end from Siddle and debutant Mitchell Marsh. Meanwhile, spinners Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe, another first-timer, were picked off regularly on Day 1 and need to create more wicket-taking chances – which they began to do in the latter stages yesterday.
O’Keefe, Australia’s 439th Test rep, became just the 23rd foreign-born player to don the baggy green. The left-arm spinner – another rarity in Australian cricket, with O’Keefe becoming just the 17th to reach Test level – was born in Malaysia, where his father was stationed with the Royal Australian Air Force. Other notable Australian players born offshore in the modern era include Moises Henriques (Portugal), Usman Khawaja (Pakistan), Andrew Symonds (England) and Kepler Wessels (South Africa).