Pakistan end rain-marred opening day at 142/4 vs Australia

Melbourne, Dec 26 (IANS) Pakistan lost two quick wickets to struggle at 142/4 when incessant rain forced an early close of play after the tea session on the opening day of the Boxing Day second cricket Test against Australia here on Monday.

Electing to bat after winning the toss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here, Pakistan lost opener Sami Aslam (9) cheaply, who fell to off-spinner Nathan Lyon in his very first over of the day.

Aslam’s opening partner Azhar Ali (66 not out) and one down batsman Babar Azam (23) then added 42 runs before Azam was sent back by pacer Josh Hazlewood off the last ball of the morning session as Pakistan went into lunch at 60/2.

Already 0-1 down in the three-match Test rubber, veteran Younis Khan (21) then joined Azhar after the break.

The Australian pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood extracted good bounce and carry as they zoomed past the Pakistani batsmen with sheer pace.

Hazlewood nearly had Younis early, when umpire Ian Gould raised his finger to an appeal for leg before wicket.

The veteran Pakistan right-hander, however, decided to review and got the call overturned as the ball, that struck a shuffling Younis on the knee roll, seemed to have missed the leg stump.

Azhar, meanwhile brought up a gritty fifty and also breached the 1000-run mark in Tests for 2016.

Just when he and Younis looked set to blunt Australia’s impact of the first session, pacer Jackson Bird managed to break through the defence of Younis to end the 51-run third wicket stand.

Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (11) then joined Azhar and the 42-year-old got off the mark with a six off Lyon. But the joy was short-lived as Bird saw the back of the Pakistan captain shortly.

Reeling at 125/4, Asad Shafiq (4 not out) survived a few anxious moments before a slight drizzle forced an early tea break with Pakistan on 142/4.

Only 50.5 overs could be bowled on the first day, as the rain got heavier and forced the umpires to call off play for the rest of the day.

Brief Score: Pakistan 142/4 (Azhar Ali 66 not out, Babar Azam 23, Jackson Bird 2/53) v Australia.