Sport Cricket Australian batsmen falter after Lyon’s heroics

Australian batsmen falter after Lyon’s heroics

Nathan Lyon leaves the field after blasting through the Pakistan batsmen. Photo: Getty
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Australia was left to lament a shaky start with the bat in Abu Dhabi after a stellar bowling performance by Nathan Lyon in an eventful opening to the second Test against Pakistan.

The tourists were 2-20 in reply to Pakistan’s 282 at stumps on day one after Mohammad Abbas dismissed nightwatchman Peter Siddle with the final ball of the day.

Trapped in front of his stumps, Siddle (four) was given not out but the decision was overturned on review.

Usman Khawaja (three) was unable to repeat his heroics during the drawn first Test in Dubai, glancing an Abbas delivery down the leg side which wicketkeeper and captain Sarfraz Ahmed snared with a brilliant diving catch.

The not out Australian batsman was Aaron Finch on 13.

Australia will be desperate to press their advantage at Sheikh Zayed Stadium after restricting Pakistan at a ground where the average first innings score is 402.

However, the Aussies will be wary of a lively pitch on which Nathan Lyon (4-78) ripped through Pakistan’s batsmen with a stunning spell in the morning session.

Australia’s greatest-ever offspinner snared four wickets in the space of six balls to leave Pakistan reeling at 5-77 at lunch.

Tuesday’s middle session belonged firmly to Pakistan with Sarfraz and Fakhar Zaman mounting a counter-attacking 147-run stand.

“If I”m being brutally honest, I think we took our foot off their throat a little bit and they fought back,” Lyon said.

“I thought Sarfraz and Fakhar on debut played a brilliant little partnership there in the middle session and put the pressure back on us.”

The game took another turn when Tim Paine threw the ball to part-time legspinner Marnus Labuschagne 15 minutes before tea.

Having convinced Paine to squander Australia’s final review with an ambitious lbw appeal three balls earlier, Labuschagne redeemed himself with the final ball of the session to trap Fakhar (94) in front and deny him a century on debut.

Sarfraz continued to spearhead a Pakistan counter-attack but also fell six runs short of a ton after lofting a Labuschagne delivery to Siddle at cover.

Playing in just his second Test, South Africa-born Labuschagne finished with figures of 3-45.

It was a day of mixed fortunes overall for Labuschagne, who dropped a sitter at mid-wicket to give Fakhar a life on 30 but earlier took a spectacular juggling catch at short leg to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez off Mitchell Starc’s bowling.

Hafeez’s shot was hit hard to short leg, thundering into Labuschagne’s thigh and bouncing off his knee before the adopted Queenslander managed to get his hands on the ball.

Lyon was the key for Australia in a dream start to the series-decider.

Dismayed coach Mickey Arthur buried his head in his hands as Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam all fell without Pakistan adding to their score.

It’s unclear whether Sarfraz will be able to continue behind the stumps after suffering what could be a serious left elbow injury courtesy of a Mitchell Starc bouncer.

Sarfraz, who was wearing a heavy compression bandage in the post-match press conference, said his elbow was too swollen for scans and Arthur had spoken to officials about the potential use of a replacement wicketkeeper.