Rawalpindi Test: Imam-ul-Haq 132 fails to defeat Australia’s Day 1 bowling attack

Imam-ul-Haq led Pakistan’s dominant batting performance on Day 1 of Friday’s first test against Australia in Rawalpindi as the left-hander went unbeaten on 132 points. Pakistan fell from a dominant position to go 245/1 in 90 overs in the historic test that marks Australia’s return to the Asian nation for the first time in 24 years.

Playing his first Test in more than two years, Imam-ul-Haq fended off Australia’s new-ball attack consisting of captain Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. Along with opening partner Abdullah Shafique, he sewed an opening 105-run stand and batted a combined 34 overs. Australia’s lone spinner Nathan Lyon picked up the only wicket to fall on Day 1 when he caught Shafique on 44 from Cummins.

Pakistan vs Australia 1. Test Day Highlights 1

Imam joined senior batter Azhar Ali after Shafique fell and continued the good work. While Imam carried his bat at the Stumps, Ali went unbeaten at 64 as the two bats wore down the Australian bowling attack, which picked just a spinner on their return to the subcontinent.

Imam, upon returning to the test site, expressed his delight at the hundred and said, “I can’t explain how I feel now. Coming back to the test page, I wanted it to count. I’ve been practicing hard for the last two and a ½ years Special mention for the camp we had in Karachi.

“I last played against Australia and then I got injured against New Zealand. And then I was the 12th man for a long time. You have to keep working hard. You have to learn from your mistakes and never lose faith. I played against Lyon. He is a good spinner. If you give him time, he’ll get you in trouble. I tried to play with positive intention to get him on the backfoot,” he added.

Skipper Babar Azam won the draw, challenging Pakistan to bat first. Australia’s Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and skipper Pat Cummins struggled to get the new ball moving.

Even veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon (1-59) was ineffective until he sacked Shafique in the penultimate over before lunch. Shafique was hit on the fly and attempted to heave the off-spinner over long-off. He was brilliantly caught by a running Cummins.

PAKISTAN DOMINATES LYON

Lyon previously extracted a short turn of the wicket, but both openers dominated the spinner using their feet, elevating a century stand. Lyon have bowled 19 overs in two sessions after being presented within the first hour.

Imam, who last played a friendly against Australia in Adelaide in December 2019, survived a close call for lbw in Starc’s third over as the crowd sought unsuccessful television criticism and replays suggested the ball would have gone over the stumps.

Shafique also had a tight call but Head allowed a difficult leg slip chance in Lyon’s second over, a ball after the spinner was hit for a straight six.

Imam upped his half-century by pulling Cummins to the square leg boundary for a four, passing his hitting partner as Australia briefly applied the offspin from Head and Lyon.

Imam continued to thrive in the second session and has hit 12 limits and two sixes so far as the Australian fast bowlers struggled to break through.

It is the first time Australia have hosted a friendly in Pakistan since 1998 amid security concerns over several attacks in Pakistan.

Australian players wore black armbands in tribute to Australia’s former great wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who died on Friday aged 74.

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