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Uzzie defies illness to drag Aussies off the canvas


“I was really feeling it today, I was really struggling from the start,” Khawaja said.“The heat, I was a little bit sick, too. Got some medication off doc in between the breaks, I wasn’t feeling well at all.“It was more of a mind game for me, on some level I was really struggling to be out there.Watch Australia’s Tour of Pakistan on Kayo. Every Test, ODI and T20 Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >“I was just telling myself ‘keep going, go as long as you can, keeping pushing through’ then to push through for five hours, when I felt absolutely horrible through the day, I take more out of that than anything.“Could easily have gone harder, played a big shot, got out for 20 or 30. I felt horrible today so it was actually a win getting 90…I’m actually really happy with it.”The Australians finished the day on 5-232. Khawaja, who has made three centuries since returning to Test cricket at the SCG, including a 160 in Karachi, is averaging 131 in the country of his birth.The temperature in Lahore and humidity high but the air quality was so poor citizens were warned to limit time outdoors, but Khawaja stuck to his task.Conditions were stifling in the middle with little breeze.Despite being ill, the opener held it together for over five hours as he and Steve Smith rescued the Australians from a perilous 2-8 early on the first morning.The opener was finally dismissed in the 75th over with the score 4-187. Smith was dismissed on 51.Illness, heat and pollution were not the only problems with the pitch playing tricks from the early overs and reverse swing coming into play early in the first session.“The ball was going down a lot, a lot of balls hit the toe of the bat, felt if anything I was more likely to get out the ball rolling under my bat which is weird on a day-one wicket,” he said.“It reverse-swung from the 12th or 13th over the whole way through the day so made scoring quite difficult.“There were a couple of balls that did grip a lot off the straight. There’s no rough there so assuming they are hitting cracks. It’s good signs for us. Hopefully we get everything right in the field…if we get close to 350 think that will be a really good total on this wicket.”Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-39) did the early damage removing David Warner (7) and Marnus Labuschagne (0) but 19 year old Naseem Shah (2-36) was the seamer who charged in all day and eventually got his rewards.“The sort of pitch it is, we quickly found out that we had to bowl our hearts out,” Naseem said after the day’s play.“It wasn’t quick but on the slower side, so to get the best out of it, you had to give it your all and try to get the ball to reverse when the ball was still hard. You had to bowl with extra pace, and since the ball was staying low, the more pace you put in, there was more chance of hitting the pads. All I tried to do was generate more pace and focus on hitting a fuller length.”Naseem bowled 19 overs, sending down nine maidens and collected he scalps of Smith and Travis Head (26).Why even 500-run lead isn’t safe in battle of the big batsAustralia has shown faith in its bowlers and its game plan, deciding to go into the third and deciding Test at Lahore with the same XI and the same attitude that took it close to a win in Karachi.The series is still tied, the wicket looks flat and the temperature draining at the famous Gaddafi Cricket Stadium on Monday.It appears it is going to take an extraordinary effort and some creative declarations to get a result, but both captains will be wary of offering opposition batsmen a chance to chase any total in the fourth innings when conditions favour batting from the first ball day one to the last ball day five.There is, however, a hint of green in the middle of the wicket, but a green seamer it is not.Pat Cummins said all the bowlers have pulled up fit despite bowling 171.4 overs in the last innings of an excruciatingly close second Test match.Australia just failed to win the match, but had fielders hung on to catches through the last innings the visitors could have won their first ever game in Karachi.“We were really pleased with how our players went last Test, I think the wicket here looks quite similar to the previous two Tests, we gave them an extra couple of days off to make sure everyone comes up good.“There’s no injury worries, everyone’s freshened up.”The players only had four days to recover after bowling through much of day four and all of day five.They bowlers played golf on the day after flying to the new venue, walked laps at training on Saturday and were similarly indolent on Sunday in order to revive themselves for the last hit out.Pakistan captain Babar Azam made the highest ever score (196) by a captain in the vital part of the game and faced the fourth most deliveries in the fourth innings of a Test when batting is supposed to be more difficult.Abdullah Shafique’s 96 from 304 deliveries and Mohammad Rizwan’s 104 not out held out the Australians who were pressing with the team seven down with eight overs to go.Usman Khawaja put down a critical catch but was not alone with Steve Smith shelling one in the slips, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne did the same close to the wicket.Two DRS reviews went Pakistan’s way on “umpire’s call” and could easily have gone in the visitors favour.Cummins says the pitch, which was sitting in the heat beneath a heavy shroud of smoke on the day before the game, looked “quite similar” to the first two.The ICC sanctioned the Rawalpindi stadium for presenting a wicket which did not provide enough assistance to bowlers and only 29 wickets fell at Karachi, but that was a significant improvement on the 14 in five days at the first venue.Pakistan’s recently appointed chair Ramiz Raja signalled a campaign to improve the country’s wickets, but the venues have had to host the PSL before the Australians arrived and change cannot happen over night.The PCB has called in an international pitch consultant and is even considering drop-ins to ensure more competitive surfaces, but will primarily stick with traditional strips.Australia has the option of Nathan Lyon’s finger spin, Mitchell Swepson’s wrist variety, the left arm pace of Mitchell Starc and the right-arm version bowled by the skipper.Cameron Green’s bowling has been good and the 22-year-old has made a number of critical breakthroughs despite being on limited workloads.Marnus Labuschagne has bowled spin and medium pace at times.It was Starc’s reverse swing in the first innings which helped knock over the home side for 148 at Karachi, but the Australians struggled to get any significant movement in the second or expose fresh batsmen when it was moving.“There’s not a lot of grass on it,” Cummins said.“I think it’s had quite a lot of traffic through the PSL as well. It seems hard. I can’t see it being too much different from the other ones. We feel like we’ve got all bases covered if needed for reverse swing or spin later in the game.“What’s been clear especially this week has been how we went about it was the right way. I am really happy with how everyone has gone about their own work and tactics.“I think it’s just a matter of taking those chances. Wickets are at a premium in this series so you can’t afford to drop too many chances. We created more than 10 chances, we just unfortunately didn’t take them. That’s going to be a challenge this week. Nothing changes the way we’ve gone about it.”Pakistan has not named a side.

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