Usman Khawaja misses century as Pakistan spinners strike in first Test


RAWALPINDI, MAR 6: Australian opener Usman Khawaja missed out on a century as Pakistan’s spinners managed a double breakthrough on the third day of the opening Test in Rawalpindi on Sunday.

At tea, Australia were 222 for 2 with Marnus Labuschagne unbeaten on 33 and Steve Smith on 12.

Australia trail by 254 runs with eight wickets remaining after Pakistan declared their first innings at 476-4.

Pakistan-born Khawaja was caught at forward short leg by Imamul Haq for 97 as he gloved a reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Nauman Ali.

Umpire Aleem Dar ruled him not out, but Pakistan were given the wicket on review.

Khawaja’s 219-minute knock included 15 boundaries, and he put on 156 for the opening wicket with David Warner, who made an attractive 68.

Warner fell in the eighth over after lunch when he missed a square drive and was bowled by off-spinner Sajid Khan.

Earlier, Khawaja and Warner scored at more than four an over in the morning session, a contrast to the Pakistan first innings which lasted two days and 162 overs.

Pakistan’s seam bowling duo and their three slow bowlers found the Pindi Cricket Stadium pitch as unresponsive as the tourists did on the first two days when only four wickets fell, with little spin and no reverse swing.

But Pakistan only had themselves to blame for not making a crucial breakthrough as Khawaja was dropped twice in a clumsy fielding display by the hosts.

Fawad Alam spilled a straightforward chance at gully off a miscued cut when Khawaja was on 22, much to the disappointment of bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Khawaja took full advantage of the reprieve, hitting three successive boundaries before reaching his 15th Test half-century off just 67 balls.

He was also let off by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan this time when Khawaja, on 62, gloved a chance while trying to reverse-sweep a Nauman delivery.

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