BRISBANE, Australia: Azhar Ali led the resistance with an unbeaten 41 as Pakistan withstood a full session under lights for the loss of two wickets Saturday against the same Australian attack that created havoc the previous night.
Facing a daunting deficit of 489 runs, and having lost 7-24 in the same period of their first innings, the Pakistan batsmen saw off the new pink ball to reach stumps at 70-2 on day three.
The tourists batted twice on Saturday, being dismissed for 142 to surrender a 287-run first-innings deficit in the first session, and then letting Australia get to 202-5 at dinner.
Skipper Steve Smith, who followed his first-innings hundred with a flourishing 63, declared Australia’s innings closed during the long break with the plan to unleash fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood on a nervous top order.
Starc had Sami Aslam (15) caught at first slip in the 12th over, but that was the only breakthrough for the quicks.
Offspinner Nathan Lyon, in the first over after the Australians asked for an out-of-shape ball to be replaced, got Babar Azam (14) fending forward and edging to Steve Smith at slip to make it 54-2.
Azhar who scored an unbeaten 302 in his first innings in a day-night test, against the West Indies in October dug in to take pressure off Younis Khan, who went in at No. 4 late in the session and faced 19 balls without getting off the mark.
He was out for a first-ball duck in the first innings, and has never had a pair of ducks in 112 previous tests.
With six sessions remaining, with rain on the forecast and still being 419 runs behind, Pakistan needs its experienced middle order to bat for time.
Asad Shafiq, set to go in at No. 6, said Pakistan wasn’t worried about the time or runs remaining, saying his team was playing it hour by hour.
The two highest successful fourth-innings chases in test history have come against Australia ? the West Indies scoring 418-7 at Antigua in 2002-03 and South Africa making 414-4 in Perth in 2008-09.
“It would have been nice to have one or two more (wickets),” Smith said, “but we are in a really good position.”
Smith wanted to ensure he had enough runs to defend, and took a conservative approach earlier Saturday when he decided not to enforce the follow-on after Pakistan’s last two wickets fell in the first session for the addition of 45 runs to the overnight total of 97-8.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Safraz Ahmed anchored the tail-end of the Pakistan first innings with an unbeaten 59, adding 75 for the last two wickets with Mohammad Amir (21) and Rahat Ali (4) after their team collapsed to 67-8.
The 54-run ninth-wicket stand ended when Amir was caught behind off Jackson Bird’s bowling.
Amir was initially given not out, but the Australians referred the decision and TV umpire Sundaram Ravi found evidence of an inside edge on hotspot and snicko technology.
Rahat was run out at the non-striker’s end by a direct hit from Warner.
The Pakistan No. 11 appeared to ground his bat but replays showed it bounced slightly at the moment Warner’s throw hit the stumps.
The Australians started their second innings aiming for quick runs, and lost openers David Warner (12) and Matt Renshaw (6) to slip to 24-2.
Smith and Usman Khawaja (74) combined in a 111-run partnership to lift the total to 135.
Smith’s 70-ball knock ended when he stepped down the pitch and lofted Yasir Shah (1-45) to Rahat Ali at long-on.
Nic Maddinson’s poor run continued he has scores of 0, 1, 4 in his first three test innings when he hit just one boundary before hooking Wahab Riaz to Azam at fine leg.
Khawaja said he was encouraged by Maddinson’s attitude of putting the team first and chasing quick runs for a declaration, and the test newcomer shouldn’t be judged solely on his score.
Peter Handscomb, who also made his test debut with Maddinson last month, was unbeaten on 35 in the second innings after scoring 105 in the first.—AP