Pakistan were at 255/3 as they ended the first day of the first Test against Australia in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
The Green Shirts won the toss and decided to bat today. The team were off to a steady start with Mohammad Hafeez and Imamul Haq firmly planted at the crease as the teams break for tea. The side is at 199/0 off 61 overs.
Hafeez, whose return to the Pakistan roster was met with a mixed response, has made sure that the selectors do not regret their decision by hitting a solid ton in the first few hours of the game.
By the time the teams broke for tea, Hafeez and Imam had both settled well on the crease. However, two wickets fell rapidly and both openers departed soon after at 127 and 76 respectively.
Azhar Ali, who replaced Imam on the crease, faced 80 balls but only managed to put 18 runs on the board. He was replaced on the crease by Mohammad Abbas in the 87th over.
Overall, even though Pakistan were propelled to a solid start by the openers, the inning slowed down significantly in the last quarter of the match with only 56 runs posted on the board.
In the span of six years, Australia have lost 12 of their 15 Tests — recording only two wins with one draw — on tours of India (twice), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.
They lost 2-0 to Pakistan in the UAE in 2014, with Yasir Shah taking 12 wickets and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who is no longer in the international set-up, claiming 14.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed earlier made clear he will attack Australia through Yasir.
“When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket,” Sarfraz had said. “Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series.
“But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him.”
Pakistan are in the midst of their own rebuild in the wake of retirements to former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, but having trounced a stronger Australia 2-0 in the last UAE series in 2014, they will fancy themselves to win this one.
Little may be expected of Paine’s Australia in a series that will play out when home fans are sleeping, but the 33-year-old skipper is mindful that results, as well as culture, are key to restoring good will.
“We are certainly making some changes and it’s something we are really serious about but we are also aware that we need to be playing a high level of cricket and winning games,” he said.
Mohammad Hafeez, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Abbas
Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine (capt & wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Jon Holland, Nathan Lyon