Gritty Pakistan hit back from looming disaster to finish with 313 on the back of fighting half-centuries from Mohammad Rizwan, Agha Salman and Aamer Jamal on the first day of the third Test against Australia on Wednesday. The tourists, staring down a meagre innings total when reduced to 96 for five after winning the toss, went on the counter-attack to frustrate the Australians late in the day at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Rizwan clubbed 88 off 103 balls, number nine Jamal smashed four sixes in a spirited 82 off 97 and Salman hit 53 off 67 to give the tourists renewed hope after a car-crash start to the innings.
David Warner, playing in his 112th and final Test, had to see off a tense final over before the close and survived a scare when the ball ricocheted just over his stumps off spinner Sajid Khan before finishing with six in Australia’s reply of 6-0.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins captured five for 61 for his third successive five-wicket haul in the series.
“When I came out to bat I knew the Australians were going to come hard after us, I was well prepared for that, they wanted to get us out as early as possible, so I was going after every ball,” said Jamal, who reached his highest Test score.
“There was no personal milestone for me, because my milestone was just to represent my country and that I achieved. I was trying to get as many runs as I could.”
On a day that began with elation for Australia ended in frustration as Pakistan’s tail wagged furiously to rescue their side after a terrible start.
Rizwan and Salman triggered the comeback with a spirited 94-run stand to defy the stellar Australia attack.
Rizwan, who had been dropped for the first Test, blasted two sixes and 10 fours off 103 balls before he fell to a legside trap set by Cummins.
Rizwan top-edged a pull shot for Josh Hazlewood to take the catch at fine leg after posting the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman of the series.
Salman took up the cudgels with a half-century before he was caught by Travis Head off Mitchell Starc.
Jamal maintained the fightback and was nearing a century before he fell to Nathan Lyon.
That left Warner, who received a guard of honour from the Pakistan team, to see out the final over of the day and he began with a flourish, cutting the first ball for four from Sajid.
“Fair play to Aamer Jamal, he batted beautifully. We threw everything at him and I thought he batted really well,” said Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
“I think it finished a pretty even day. I think it’s going to be a traditional SCG wicket with a lot of fielders in front of the wicket, we’ll take that today.”
It was a rousing morning session for Australia as openers Abdullah Shafique and debutant Saim Ayub were dismissed inside two overs.
The out-of-form Shafique fell to the second ball of Starc’s opening over and Ayub, brought in for Imam-ul-Haq to make his Test debut, only lasted two balls before a Hazlewood outswinger was edged to Alex Carey.
Babar Azam caressed three glorious cover drives to the ropes before he was out for 26, lbw to Cummins, leaving the tourists tottering at 39 for three.
Saud Shakeel copped a nasty blow on the collarbone from a Cummins lifter before he prodded a catch off Cummins to Carey for five.
Skipper Shan Masood, on 32, survived a catch off Marsh when it was ruled a no-ball.
Marsh got the last laugh two overs later when Masood, on 35, again edged the medium-pacer to Steve Smith in almost identical fashion to leave Pakistan at 96 for five.
Australia clinched the three-match series with a tense 79-run win in the second Test in Melbourne over Christmas.
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