Day 1: Asad Shafiq Provides Resistance as Pakistani Batting Crumbles

Facing Australia in their 65th Test match, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first.

Azhar Ali led Pakistan’s side with Naseem Shah making his debut and Mohammad Abbas dropped from the team altogether. Haris Sohail was retained despite his purple patch and performers of warm-up matches Iftikhar Ahmed and Imran Khan also made a comeback.

For Australia, the decisions were straightforward bar one, which was dropping Usman Khawaja to retain Marnus Labuschange in the team. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all led the attack for Australia.

  • Pakistan XI: Shan Masood, Azhar Ali (c), Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Imran Khan
  • Australia XI: Joe Burns, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathon Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

Steady Start for Pakistan

Shan Masood and Azhar Ali opened the innings for Pakistan. Both openers were wary of the threat posed by Australian seamers, including the world’s best Test bowler Pat Cummins.

The openers lasted 33 overs together, which was a record in itself. This was also Pakistan’s highest runs opening stand in more than a year.

Crumbling Middle Order Once Again

Despite being given a steady opening stand, Pakistan failed to capitalize on the advantage and gifted Aussies with their wickets.

The main culprits for Pakistan’s nervousness started with Haris Sohail and ended with Babar Azam.

Haris Sohail

For some, Haris Sohail is a regular starter for Pakistan in Test matches. However, his recent performances beg to differ. Coming one-down, Haris failed to address the situation and played an incredibly careless shot and was caught behind by the Aussie skipper.

Despite already being in a poor form, Haris coming one-down remains a questionable decision and points fingers at Misbah-ul-Haq and rest of the selection committee.

Babar Azam

There is no denying that Babar Azam is in fantastic form. However, he has always faced trouble in converting the white-ball cricket form into the longest format of the game.

After playing so many limited-over games, Babar came to the crease with a low temperament and started playing expansive shots without settling in properly.

His failure to hold his composure, despite being at the crease for five balls is one of the reasons why he doesn’t average as much as he does in limited-over cricket.

Controversial No-Ball Decision

The one controversy that took place during day 1 was the dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan. The replacement of Sarfaraz Ahmed was playing a remarkable inning and was 37 from 34 balls.

Pat Cummins, steaming in as he normally does, bowled a jaffa and got the edge of Rizwan’s bat which landed in the hands of Tim Paine.

As Rizwan was walking off, the umpires wanted to check for no-ball. It seemed like a clear and obvious no-ball but the third umpire had a different opinion.

This led to a huge controversy as the commentary box was also left confused including millions watching the event unfold.

It is worth mentioning that some part of the foot has to be behind the white line for it to be a legal delivery. The line belongs to the umpire.

Asad Shafiq’s Heroics

As Pakistani batting lineup was crumbling, Asad Shafiq took charge and stabilized the innings to the best of his abilities. With a world-record of 9 centuries at number 6 position, Shafiq showed why he is one of the best lower middle-order batsmen in the world.

He started off rather slowly but found his groove later on and was helped greatly by Yasir Shah from the other end. Shafiq managed to score 76 runs, which include 7 boundaries.

The Australian pacers later wrapped up the Pakistani tail without any hesitation. Pakistan were all out for 240 runs.

Sports Analyst & Head of Sports Desk.