Bilal Asif

Bilal Asif scripts Australian collapse with six wickets on debut

Pak v Aus, 1st Test day 3, report

Hit For Six!

Bilal Asif, the Pakistan off-spinner, took a five-wicket haul on Test debut as Australia lost their way after a solid opening stand to be bowled out for 202 on the third day of the opening Test in Dubai.

Chasing Pakistan’s 482, Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch brought up fifties. They looked good for more before a collapse of 10 for 60 left Australia with a massive deficit.

Three Pakistani wickets to have them at 45/3 at stumps on Tuesday, 9 October, was a positive for the tourists, but the hosts, with a lead of 325, were undoubtedly the happier ones at the end of the day. 

Bilal Asif, making his debut at 33, finished with 6/36
Bilal Asif, making his debut at 33, finished with 6/36

Beginning the morning on 30/0, Khawaja and Finch accumulated steadily. In the battle of the opening stands, Pakistan might have been clear winners with the 205 put together by Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez earlier in the match. But the Australian duo did a considerable job in adding 142.

Against an attack that created a few chances, they stayed patient, waiting for the loose balls to attack. Finch especially was his aggressive self when given a chance: he took Yasir Shah for back-to-back boundaries and launched him for six soon after.

The morning session brought 107 runs. The second session, however, resulted in a flurry of wickets amid a streaky period of play.

Finch, looking to smash one down the ground off Mohammad Abbas, was caught brilliantly at short mid-on with Asad Shafiq pouching it inches off the ground.

Shaun Marsh saw out 25 deliveries before he was tempted into an expansive drive, only to edge to slip, giving Asif – a debutant at 33 – his first wicket.

Khawaja, who had survived a stumping chance in the early moments of the day, miscued a sweep shot, and Asif had his second.

It might have been 167/4 and Mitchell Marsh back in the pavilion the very next ball had Shah held on to a catch off his own bowling, but Pakistan didn’t have long to wait.

Coming out to bat under pressure with the spinners in full flow, both debutants Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne had a forgettable start to their Test batting careers, departing for ducks in the same Asif over.

Having lost five wickets for only 43 runs between lunch and tea, it only got worse for the visitors. Tim Paine reviewed out of hope, but Ultra Edge showed a clear spike to confirm the catch at short leg – and Asif had his fifth. He would finish with 6/36.

The veteran Yasir Shah did his bit in keeping up the pressure, but it was Abbas who shared the spoils with Asif, his 4/29 just reward for bowling at the stumps and getting slight movement.

Although Australia were 80 short of the follow-on score, Pakistan chose not to ask them to bat again. It came as some consolation to Paine's men that Jon Holland and Nathan Lyon ensured there would be no repeat of the openers' big stand from the first innings.

Holland saw the back of Hafeez, and later Azhar Ali just before stumps, with one pitching in line with leg stump and trapping the batsman in front. Haq will resume day four on 23.

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