Pakistan stop Smith but stalemate looms in first Test

By Sports Desk March 07, 2022

Australia protected a likely draw in the first Test against Pakistan as the tourists batted out day four in Rawalpindi to close to within 27 runs.

A remarkable collapse from one side or the other is now required on Tuesday to deliver a winner, with the batsmen continuing to dominate in the opener of a three-match series.

Australia resumed 205 back on Pakistan's first innings' 476-4 declared and steadily closed that gap over the course of the day.

Steve Smith spent much of Monday at the crease, albeit he added only 54 more runs to reach 78 from 196 balls.

Indeed, Australia seemed happy to wear out the Pakistan bowlers ahead of a second Test that is likely to have a greater say in the outcome of the series, largely limiting their errors having had eight wickets in hand in their first innings at the start of play.

Marnus Labuschagne (90) put on 108 for the third wicket with Smith but was denied a third Test century against Pakistan by excellent bowling and equally good fielding, caught at slip by Abdullah Shafique off Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Travis Head did not last long in Labuschagne's place, but Cameron Green stuck around and picked up the pace slightly after tea before paying the price for his ambition with a top edge off an attempted sweep to go for 48.

Smith gloved behind attempting a similar shot and Naseem Shah beautifully bowled Alex Carey (19), yet Pakistan's improved bowling late in the day failed to breathe life into the Test.

Green leaves runs out there

Labuschagne was undone by excellent play from Pakistan, but Green really had only himself to blame, getting too much on his shot from a relatively uncomplicated Nauman Ali delivery and giving Iftikhar Ahmed a simple catch.

As the bowlers toiled on a tough pitch, this was an opportunity missed for Green, who with a little more care could have followed his first fifty in his previous Test against England with a first outside of Australia.

Little to separate sides again

Australia have been away from Pakistan for over 23 years, but you would not know it looking at the outcome of this match. Ten of the previous 17 Tests between the sides in Pakistan have ended in draws – and this match will surely make it 11 in 18.

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