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Pakistan resumes batting after lunch as Australia Test heads for draw


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RAWALPINDI (AFP) – Pakistan’s first home Test against Australia in nearly a quarter of a century headed for a tame draw with the hosts bat without loss at lunch on the fifth and final day Tuesday.

Imam-ul-Haq was unbeaten on 40 and fellow opener Abdullah Shafique on 33 after Australia were dismissed for 459 in their first innings in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan, now leading by 93, were 476-4 declared in their first innings.

Australia are on their first tour of Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to tour over security fears.

But hopes of a result have been thwarted by a Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch that has offered little to the bowlers since day one.

Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali bowled a nagging line and length to mop up the Australian tail early Tuesday and finish with career-best figures of 6-107 in 38.1 overs — his third five-wicket haul in eight Tests.

His effort enabled Pakistan to get the last three wickets with the addition of just 10 runs after Australia resumed on 449-7.

Nauman — whose previous best of 5-35 came on his debut against South Africa in Karachi last year — dismissed Australian skipper Pat Cummins for eight and Nathan Lyon for three in quick succession.

Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi got rid of Mitchell Starc to finish with figures of 2-88 in 30 overs.

It merits mention here that, at the end of the fourth day, Pakistan’s first home Test against Australia in nearly a quarter of a century looked headed for a draw despite Nauman Ali grabbing four wickets Monday as the tourists reached 449-7 on the fourth day of a rain-hit match in Rawalpindi.

When umpires called off play with three overs still to be bowled, Mitchell Starc was on 19 and skipper Pat Cummins four with Australia just 27 behind Pakistan s first innings total of 476-4 declared.

Australia are on their first tour to Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to visit over security fears.

But despite no rain forecast for today, the likelihood of a result in the opening Test of the three-match series looks bleak, barring a Pakistan batting collapse in the second innings on a wicket that still looks full of runs.

The pitch at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has produced 925 runs for just 13 wickets, and is unlikely to yield the spin needed for a result.

Still, Pakistan grabbed five wickets Monday, including that of top-ranked Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne (90) and veteran Steve Smith (78), with Nauman taking 4-107 in 37 precise overs.

Nauman broke a stubborn fifth-wicket stand of 81 between Smith and Cameron Green (48) by having the young allrounder caught off a miscued sweep at leg slip by Iftikhar Ahmed.

Australia were looking for quick runs to go ahead in the first innings, but they were further jolted as Nauman dismissed Smith off a miscued sweep that caught the gloves and landed in wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan s safe hands.

Smith batted two minutes short of five hours, hitting eight boundaries. Alex Carey made 19 before he was bowled by quickie Naseem Shah in the fading light.

Earlier, overnight rain had left the outfield at the stadium waterlogged and the umpires only allowed play to start after lunch.

The second Test is in Karachi on March 12-16 and the third in Lahore on March 21-25.

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