RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (AP) – Usman Khawaja missed out on a century in the country of his birth but his chancy knock of 97 led Australia to a healthy 222-2 at tea on the third day of the first test against Pakistan yesterday.
Khawaja, whose family migrated to Australia when he was four, made full use of two dropped catches before Pakistan hit back through its spinners with two wickets in the middle session.
Marnus Labuschagne was unbeaten on 33 while vice-captain Steve Smith was not out on 12 with Australia still trailing Pakistan by 254 runs in the first innings.
Khawaja had escaped a second chance when on 62 wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan couldn’t grab a sharp chance off a reverse sweep against left-arm spinner Nauman Ali (1-32).
However, he attempted the same extravagant shot against Nauman and was caught close to the wicket when Pakistan successfully called for a television review against onfield umpire Aleem Dar’s not out decision. Replays suggested Khawaja had gloved the ball as it ballooned to Imam-ul-Haq at short leg.
Khawaja’s entertaining knock lasted just over three and a half hours and came off 159 balls featuring 15 boundaries as Australia scored at a rate of 3.63 run per over in the two sessions.
Earlier, Khawaja and David Warner (68) shared a rapid 156-run opening-wicket stand and dominated Pakistan bowlers on a placid wicket where the home team had declared its first innings at 476-4 late on the second day.
Warner exchanged pleasant smiles with Pakistan fast bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah, who tested the left-hander with some short pitched deliveries, but the left-hander exerted his authority with some exquisite drives on both sides of the wicket against both pace and spin.
Warner hit 12 boundaries before he was clean bowled by offspinner Sajid Khan (1-75) off a delivery that skidded off the pitch as the left-hander tried to cut off the backfoot and missed the line of the ball.
Earlier, resuming on 5-0, both Australian left-handed openers were hardly troubled by the early pace of Afridi and Naseem and didn’t let the two specialist spinners – Sajid and Nauman – get settled by smashing 23 boundaries in the first session in which Pakistan bowled 32 overs.
Pakistan came close to dismissing Khawaja on 22, but Fawad Alam dropped a simple chance at gully in Afridi’s fifth over. Khawaja added insult to injury by taking three consecutive boundaries against the left-arm fast bowler on either side of the wicket.
Khawaja raised his fifty off 67 balls with eight fours while Warner raised his fifty off 86 balls with nine boundaries after he smashed offspinner Iftikhar Ahmed for three boundaries in his first over as the wicket hardly gave any assistance to either fast bowlers
Pakistan batters Azhar Ali (185) and Imam-ul-Haq (157) had scored hundreds before Pakistan declared its first innings.