Sport Cricket Aussie openers up for the fight in Dubai

Aussie openers up for the fight in Dubai

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A quick-fire 75 from Dave Warner has helped Australia mount a comeback in the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai.

Warner and opening partner Chris Rogers guided Australia to 0-113 at stumps on day two, in response to Pakistan’s big first dig of 454.

Earlier, a brilliant century from Sarfraz Ahmed had put Pakistan in a commanding position.

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Coming in at number seven, the 27-year-old wicketkeeper’s attacking intent and inventive stroke play were the perfect antidote to a sedate opening day and deserved a bigger audience than the sparse few at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Nice job: Warner and Rogers at the close. Photo: Getty
Nice job: Warner and Rogers at the close. Photo: Getty

His 109, plus 106 from first-day centurion Younis Khan, as well as half centuries from Azhar Ali (53), Misbah-ul-Haq (69) and Asid Shafiq (89) helped Pakistan to a big total.

In response Australia looked largely untroubled, reaching 113 in 31 overs with Rogers, as usual, playing the circumspect Hutch to Warner’s free-swinging Starsky.

Warner scored his sixth successive Test 50, brought up with an audacious reverse sweep against Yasir Shah – off the first ball he’d seen from the leggie.  

He finished the day on 75 off 77 balls, with Rogers unbeaten on 31 off 110.

Resuming on Thursday at 4-219, Pakistan pair Misbah and Shafiq were keen to get after Nathan Lyon.

Misbah notched up his 50 with a sweep off the spinner, and although the track was turning, the batsmen looked comfortable.

When the breakthrough came it was from the unlikely source of Steve Smith – a formidable-looking Misbah falling for 69 when he mistimed one to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on.

That brought Sarfraz to the middle and he was on the offensive from the get-go – cracking 14 runs from the five remaining balls in Smith’s over.

With him at the crease Pakistan moved swiftly past 300 and went to lunch at 5-328.

A delighted Sarfraz after bringing up his second Test ton. Photo: Getty
A delighted Sarfraz after bringing up his second Test ton. Photo: Getty

Sarfraz took a shine to Peter Siddle after the interval as he closed in on 50, but at the other end Johnson wasn’t giving much away.

A boundary from Shafiq off Siddle brought up the 350 while Sarfraz reached his half century at better than a run a ball.

Shafiq began to follow his lead – opening his shoulders as Pakistan turned the screws.

On a pitch that was supposed to be spin friendly, it was Lyon and debutant Stephen O’Keefe who took the bulk of the damage on the scoreboard.

Michael Clarke was desperate for a breakthrough, and he turned again to Smith, but the part-time spinner was too short.

Sarfraz put him to the sword, cracking three fours from the first – and only – Smith over as Pakistan motored past 400.

O’Keefe replaced him, and after being dispatched by Shafiq for a big six back over his head, he picked up his first Test wicket the very next ball when the batsman lofted one to Mitch Marsh.

Two boundaries to Sarfraz off Marsh helped him bring up a fantastic ton, off just 80 balls, while O’Keefe struck again to get rid of Yasir (2).

New batsman Zulfiqar Babar took a wicked blow on the hand from Johnson, drawing blood, and Sarfraz finally fell for 109 when he was stumped off the bowling of Lyon with the last ball before tea.

Babar had to retire on seven in order to get his hand treated, so when Lyon dismissed Rahat Ali for a duck the Pakistan innings came to a close.

Johnson was the best of the Australian bowlers, toiling hard for his 3-39 (four wickets if we include Babar’s mangled finger), and 18 of his 31 overs were maidens.

O’Keefe (2-107) and Lyon (2-148) also chipped in.

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