Australian opener Usman Khawaja missed a century in his native country on Sunday by three runs as his side delivered a strong response to Pakistan on the third day of the first Test in Rawalpindi. Bad light stopped playing and then it rained with Australia at 271-2, Pakistan trailing by 205 runs with eight wickets remaining after the home side declared 476-4 on Saturday. Marnus Labuschagne was at 69 and Steve Smith at 24. With rain forecast for the last two days, a result is unlikely. The second test in Karachi from March 12-16 and the third in Lahore from March 21-25.
It could have been a memorable day for Khawaja had he completed his 11th Test century in Pakistan, where he was born in 1986 before his parents emigrated to Australia.
The southpaw was caught on the short forward leg by Imam-ul-Haq for 97 when he reversed sweep of left arm spinner Nauman Ali.
Umpire Aleem Dar didn’t rule him out but Pakistan took the wicket after assessment.
Labuschagne, the current number one batter in the Test rankings, picked up where Khawaja and Warner had left off, crossing nine stellar lines.
He and Smith added 68 for the third wicket, defying Pakistani spin duo Sajid and Nauman, who each took one wicket in the post-lunch session.
Khawaja’s 219-minute knockout spanned 15 limits, and he set up 156 for the opening wicket with David Warner making an attractive 68.
Warner fell into the eighth after lunch when he missed a square drive and was bowled by off-spinner Sajid Khan.
Previously, Khawaja and Warner scored by more than four overs in the morning session, unlike Pakistan’s first innings which lasted two days and 162 overs.
The Pakistan seam bowling duo and their three slow bowlers found the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch as insensitive as the tourists did on the first two days when only four wickets fell, with little spin and no reverse swing.
But Pakistan only blamed itself for not making a crucial breakthrough as Khawaja was dropped twice in an awkward fieldwork by the hosts.
Fawad Alam dropped an uncomplicated shot at a gully from a miscued cut when Khawaja was on 22, much to the disappointment of bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Taking full advantage of the delay, Khawaja reached three straight limits before making his 15th Test half-century with just 67 balls.
He was also booed by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan when he seized an opportunity at 62 while attempting to reverse sweep a Nauman delivery.
Australia is on their first trip to Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to visit the country due to security concerns.
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