Second Test: It was a 'dream ball' against Babar, says Cummins

Cummins changed the day in two overs, brilliantly catching Shafique off his own bowling and dismissing Babar with a sublime delivery

By AFP

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Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates after dismissing Pakistan batsman Babar Azam. — AFP
Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates after dismissing Pakistan batsman Babar Azam. — AFP

Published: Wed 27 Dec 2023, 11:15 PM

Pakistan threatened to take charge of the second Test after dismissing Australia for 318 and were making a good start to their reply on Wednesday but were reduced to 194 for six at stumps after the intervention of home skipper Pat Cummins.

The tourists looked in fine shape at 124-1 an hour after tea but will resume on day three of the match 124 runs in arrears with hopes of a first Test win in Australia since 1995 to level the series at 1-1 fading fast.

Cummins (3-37) changed the day in two overs, brilliantly catching Abdullah Shafique for 62 off his own bowling and dismissing dangerman Babar Azam for one with a sublime delivery that had the Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd roaring in delight.

"It's a dream ball," Cummins said after rattling Babar's stumps. "It's what you try to bowl most balls, but it's rare that it comes off.

"That wasn't a deliberate ball to seam in. It's fifty-fifty whether it will seam in or out. You try to create a bit of an angle, and if I don't know what it's doing, hopefully the batter doesn't know either."

Off spinner Nathan Lyon also played a leading role in Australia's fightback, breaking an obdurate opening partnership between Imam-Ul-Haq and Shafique before returning to remove Shan Masood for 54.

Masood had played a gutsy captain's innings for his eighth Test half century but frittered all his good work away when he tried to club the ball back over Lyon's head only to balloon it to Mitch Marsh at point.

Josh Hazlewood then chipped in to bowl Saud Shakeel for nine and Cummins returned late in the session to have Agha Salman caught behind for five.

Mohammad Rizwan was unbeaten on 29 at the close of play with Aamer Jamal two not out from 26 balls at the other end.

"I thought we bowled decently before tea without too much reward, they obviously batted quite well," said Cummins.

"It was good at the end there to get a few big wickets and we feel like we're well into their order now.

"I thought our batters did well to get over 300, I think the pitch is just going to get better and better."

The rain which had disrupted the opening day of the Boxing Day Test stayed away but conditions still favoured the bowlers and Pakistan were able to wrap up Australia's first innings before lunch.

Jamal led the way with 3-64 as the tourists, who have lost 15 successive Tests in Australia since 1995, took the last seven wickets at the cost of 131 runs.

Marnus Labuschagne top scored with 63 but the 52 extras Pakistan conceded was a reminder of a sloppiness that Australia were always going to be happy to exploit.

Pakistan belied that tendency early in their innings, particularly as Shafique and Masood put on 90 runs for the second wicket with brave and disciplined batting in the face of Australia's world class pace attack.

Australia won the first Test by an emphatic 360 runs in Perth two weeks ago. The third and final Test will take place in Sydney in the new year.

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