Sarfraz Ahmed: All the credit to the Australians and specially to Usman Khawaja for the way he batted through the day and saved the match for his country. I knew he understands Urdu, but he played the sweep and reverse sweep very well against our spinners. We need to continue to work hard and keep learningthrough the Test.
Preview: Mohammad Abbas unearthed the reverse-swing on offer on day four at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and captured three wickets in no time to leave Pakistan in a strong position against Australia in the first Test on Wednesday. Resuming the penultimate day on 45 for 3, Pakistan, who amassed 482 runs in the first innings, scored at a steady rate before declaring on 181 for 6. Set a daunting 462-run target, Australia were 136 for 3, still 326 runs behind, with Usman Khawaja and Travis Head unbeaten on 50 and 34 respectively. Australia suffered the same fate they did in the first innings where despite Aaron Finch and Khawaja's splendid 142-run opening stand, the visiting team folded meekly for just 202. With a mountain to climb, the openers once again looked solid and played risk-free cricket to lay a good foundation. Playing his first Test, Finch looked in complete control and smashed five fours in different directions.
The association had already reached 87 and Pakistan were desperate for the breakthrough. Like he did in the first innings, captain Sarfraz Ahmed turned to Abbas and the right-arm fast bowler once again delivered. The 28-year-old pinned Finch right in front of the stumps with a delivery that nipped back in from just outside off. Finch missed out on a fifty by just one run. Abbas was getting the ball to reverse and Shaun Marsh had no answer to it. His sorry form continued as he edged one to the keeper without opening his account. Before the dust had settled, Abbas also got rid of Mitchell Marsh (nought) to leave Australia in disbelief. The touring team lost three wickets on 87 and the ghost of first innings - where they lose 10 wickets for 60 runs - started hovering over them. Khawaja, at the other end, remained unfazed and finally found an ally in debutant Head to battle it out in the middle. Head played a couple of delightful shots against Bilal Asif, who scalped six wickets in the first essay, and Yasir Shah. In the process, Khawaja, who top-scored for Australia in the first innings with a knock of 85, touched the 50-run mark for the second time in this Test. The two shared an unbeaten partnership of 49 runs for the fifth wicket to ensure Australia end the fourth day with some hope of saving the Test.
Earlier, opener Imam-ul-Haq added 25 runs to his overnight score of 23 and also shared a 65-run stand with first-innings centurion Haris Sohail. Left-arm spinner Jon Holland (3 for 83) dismissed Imam for 48, caught and bowled off a flighted delivery, before debutant Marnus Labuschagne trapped Sohail in front for 39 in the very next over. Babar Azam (28) announced his arrival with a six, and so did Asad Shafiq who took the attack to the spinners from the word go. Shafiq commenced with a stylish drive and conventional sweep before smoking Nathan Lyon (2 for 58) for a six over mid-wicket. However, the off-spinner got his revenge when Shafiq hit one straight into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder, and that's when Sarfraz made the declaration.