Dubai, Oct 7: Australians were made to toil in the sweltering Dubai heat on day one of the first Test against Pakistan.
Having opted to bat first after winning the toss, Hafeez started well and he was amply supported by Imam ul Haq as the duo added 201 for the first wicket before the latter departed early in the third session for 76.
Hafeez was also dismissed later in the third session, but their efforts helped Pakistan finish the day strongly at 255/3.
Hafeez, who was a late call-up to the squad, brought up his fifty soon after the lunch but seemed to have suffered a dip in concentration, and survived a couple of rash shots. He first skewed an attempted hit down the ground to long off, where Mitchell Marsh couldn't quite get to it. An over later he got a thick leading edge off Marnus Labuschagne's bowling to long off, but that fell in no man's land.
He motored on to get into his nineties and was troubled a little bit by Starc coming from round the wicket. He got beaten, and then got a thick edge to third man.
He brought up his hundred with a whip off his hips off Holland to scamper a couple. He got another edge in Starc's next over which could have nestled right into slip's hands if Australia had one stationed there, instead it ran away to the third man fence.
Imam looked relatively calm in the second session and sedately went past his fifty to pile on the agony for Australia. The openers added 110 runs in the second session, taking the score to 199/0.
Shortly after the tea break, however, off-spinner Nathan Lyon – who'd bowled well all day – finally got his reward with Imam nicking an attempted late-cut to the keeper, falling for 76 – his career-best Test score.
Hafeez was joined by Azhar Ali, and faced the old ball the duo had to contend not only with increased turn for the spinners but also pronounced reverse-swing by the quicks.
Peter Siddle - who last played a Test close to two years ago – proved his worth getting one to come in sharply, beating Hafeez's inside edge to trap him in front for 126.
With the openers gone, the two new batsmen - Ali and Haris Sohail – focussed on defence. Sohail survived a mild scare when Australia appealed and reviewed for leg-before after he missed a sweep shot off Lyon, but the impact was shown to be outside the line of off stump.
Australia bowled all their overs with the same ball, opting against taking the second new ball available after the 80th over. It might have been a ploy to further constrict the flow of runs and frustrate the batsmen.
The bowlers kept probing even in the dying stages despite having laboured in the aggressive heat all day, and cracks started appearing in Ali's patience. He decided to stride out and take on Jon Holland. He tonked one over the bowlers head for a four, but when he attempted another such shot, he mis hit it to mid-off where Starc took a good catch to send him back for an 80-ball 18.
The Australian bowlers must be credited for giving it their all, particularly fast bowler Starc who bowled 21 overs in the day. Worryingly for Australia, he looked in discomfort after his penultimate over, but despite which he came on for another crack in the final over of the day's play, possibly motivated by the prospect of getting the wicket of night-watchman Mohammad Abbas, but he didn't have the fortune.
Sohail remained unbeaten on 15 from 53 balls, while Abbas survived 13 balls for one run. Only 56 runs were scored in the final session. (UNI)