MELBOURNE: Experienced batter Steve Smith fell in the dying minutes of Day 3 of the ongoing second Test to glimmer a ray of hope for Pakistan but Mitchell Marsh’s 96-run knock kept Australia in command.
Australia had amassed 187/6 in their second innings when Steve Smith’s dismissal off Shaheen Shah Afridi resulted in the umpires to call it a day.
The home side have acquired a massive 241-run lead over Pakistan and will be eyeing to stretch it further when wicketkeeper batter Alex Carey, unbeaten on 16, resumes Australia’s second innings on Day 4 with Mitchell Starc.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan resumed their innings at 194-6 with Mohammad Rizwan (29) and Aamir Jamal (2) on the crease.
The pair could add 21 runs to their overnight partnership as Pakistan’s batting mainstay Mohammad Rizwan fell victim to Pat Cummins in the eighth over of the day.
He scored an important 42 in 51 deliveries with the help of one boundary and a six.
Aamir Jamal was then joined by Shaheen Afridi at the crease and the duo stitched a vital 25-run partnership, majorly dominated by the latter.
Shaheen scored a brisk 21 off 28 balls and hit four boundaries before Nathan Lyon put an end to his enthralling cameo by trapping him lbw.
Jamal then put together brief partnerships with Hasan Ali (2) and Mir Hamza (2) as Pakistan’s first innings yielded 264 runs in response to Australia’s 318.
He remained unbeaten on 33 off 80 deliveries, featuring four boundaries and a six.
Pat Cummins led the bowling charge for Australia with a five-wicket haul, followed by Nathan Lyon, who picked four.
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Despite a crucial 54-run lead in their arsenal, Australia failed to inflict their dominance over Pakistan and instead got off to a disastrous start to their second innings.
Shaheen Afridi opened the floodgates for Australia with a first-over wicket as he got Usman Khawaja (0) caught behind on the second delivery.
The ace pacer struck again in his next over and got rid of Marnus Labuschagne (4) to dent Australia’s start further.
Mir Hamza soon followed the footsteps of his fellow pacer and he too, struck in quick succession to leave Australia reeling at 16/4.
He castled David Warner (6) and Travis Head (0) on consecutive deliveries when Australia had a narrow 70-run lead.
Smith was then joined by Mitchell Marsh and the pair got Australia going with a massive 154-run partnership which got a lifeline from Abdullah Shafique.
Australia were 46/4 when Aamir Jamal produced a thick edge off Marsh’s bat that went straight to Shafique at the first slip but was put down.
Pakistan had to wait around 35 overs to get a breakthrough as Mir Hamza got Marsh caught in the slips in the 90s.
He remained the top-scorer for Australia with 96 in 130 balls, laced up with 13 boundaries.
Steve Smith shared a brief 18-run partnership with Alex Carey before a sharp-rising delivery by Shaheen Afridi outclassed him soon after his half-century.
He scored 50 in 176 deliveries with the help of three boundaries.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi and Mir Hamza picked three wickets each.