Nearly 24 years after last playing in the country, Australia’s landmark Test series in Pakistan commences today in Rawalpindi. Follow the action live.
Nearly 24 years after last playing in the country, Australia’s landmark Test series in Pakistan is underway in Rawalpindi.
Australia captain Pat Cummins lost the toss and the hosts elected to bat first.
Pakistan was 1-240 (Imam-ul-Haq 129*, Azhar Ali 62*, Lyon 1-82) after 87 overs at 11.35 pm AEDT.
11.34pm: Australia has taken the new ball with a handful of overs left in the day, but it hasn’t brought about any change of luck for Pat Cummins.
They’ve already turned back to Nathan Lyon with spin looking like the most dangerous option in drawing a false shot from Imam-ul-Haq or Azhar Ali.
10.47pm: Steve Smith has come on to bowl for Australia, trying to recreate his SCG heroics against England, as Australia try to get the new ball before stumps.
Smith is the eighth bowler that Pat Cummins has turned to on day one with only David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey not given a chance to roll the arm over.
10.04pm: Imam-ul-Haq has brought up the first century of his Test career with a near chanceless innings in Rawalpindi. Throughout his knock, he has shown his flexibility. He has spent the majority of the time finding singles and rotating the strike, while he‘s also shown his attacking prowess by coming down the wicket to Nathan Lyon.
In his first Test since the end of 2019, the Pakistan opener has well and truly announced himself back at the highest level of cricket.
A statistic shown by the host broadcaster while in the 90s said that the opener had found the middle with 78 per cent of his deliveries, and the edge with two per cent. Clinical.
9.46pm: Pakistan continue to make light work of the Australian bowling attack. Imam-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali have started the third session of the day slowly but have looked comfortable against the fast bowlers.
Pat Cummins is attempting to be creative with his field placings but in the end, it’s just leaving simple singles for Pakistan to rotate the strike and frustrate Australia with the left/right-hand combination.
9.22pm: Peter Lalor is on the ground in Rawalpindi and is watching first hand Imam-ul-Haq’s batting masterclass.
“The visitors went wicketless in the second session with the wicket providing nothing much for seam and spin.”
Scroll down for the rest of his update from Tea.
TEA 9:01pm: Imam-ul-Haq has remained unbeaten to the tea break, walking off the ground just eight runs shy of a first Test century.
For the Australians, Nathan Lyon’s breakthrough on the stroke of lunch remains their only wicket of the day.
8.40pm: Imam-ul-Haq has brought up his highest score in Test cricket with a classy knock so far against Australia on Day 1, currently sitting on 79*.
The opener hasn’t played a Test since Pakistan took on Australia in Adelaide back in 2019 where he was dismissed for 2 and 0. His previous highest Test score was 76 against Australia in Dubai in 2018.
8.17pm: Australia are searching for a second wicket but their task won’t get any easier in these tough bowling conditions in Rawalpindi.
After Imam-Ul-Haq and Azhar Ali comes Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam. Azam averages 87.83 in Tests in Pakistan since the start of 2019. Fawad Alam then follows who averages 56 in the same period, while wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan averages 50.25.
7.50pm: Australia have resumed after lunch with Pat Cummins doing the grunt work as he hits the pitch hard looking for Australia’s second wicket of the day.
The average first innings score at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium is 296. In the two most recent matches at the ground, Pakistan scored 272 against South Africa in 2021, and Sri Lanka scored 308 against Pakistan in 2019.
LUNCH 6.30pm: Australia finally make the breakthrough with Nathan Lyon drawing a false shot from Abdullah Shafique who departs from 44 thanks to a good catch from Pat Cummins.
Pakistan’s first-wicket partnership of 105 is just their seventh opening partnership of 100 or more against Australia in Test cricket.
Pakistan sit on 1-105 after 35 overs.
6.13pm: Pakistan have brought up their first milestone after passing 100 in the 32nd over. Sitting at 0-100, Abdullah Shafique and Imam-Ul-Haq registered just the third opening partnership at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium of 100 runs or more.
Imam-ul-Haq, who hadn’t played a Test since November 2019 against Australia in Adelaide, brought up just his fourth half-century in Test cricket.
5.55pm: Abdullah Shafique and Imam-Ul-Haq are motoring along as the Australians begin to realise just how good a toss this was for Pakistan to win.
Shafique and Ul-Haq have made their way to 0-86 after the 28th over and despite a few scares, have looked relatively comfortable against each of Australia’s five bowlers they have used in the first session.
The 86-run stand is already the fourth-best opening partnership in Test cricket at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Australia’s Michael Slater and Mark Taylor hold the record for their 176-run stand in the first innings in 1994.
5.30pm: Have Australia got selection wrong in the first Test match of the Benaud-Qadir trophy?
That’s the line from News Corp’s Peter Lalor who is at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. After 22 overs, Australia have already bowled 11 overs of spin. On a pitch that is only going to be more conducive to spin as the Test goes on, Australia’s fast-bowlers may not have a whole lot more to do for the next five days.
Read the rest of Peter Lalor’s coverage further down this page.
5.12pm: At the 17th over, Pat Cummins has already had to revert to one of his part-time spinners by throwing the ball to Travis Head. Nathan Lyon has clearly been the most dangerous of the Australian bowlers so it’s no surprise Cummins is already looking for his spinners to make a breakthrough.
4:38pm: After not bowling a single over in Australia’s last Test in Hobart, Nathan Lyon has been brought on to bowl the 8th over against Pakistan. The Australian off-spinner immediately looked dangerous and was generating plenty of turn.
4:26pm: Pakistan was 0-11 when Australia burnt its first review. An lbw shout against Imam-ul-Haq from Mitchell Starc was turned down on field. Ball-tracking confirmed the ball was clearing the stumps on review.
3:30pm Toss: Pakistan elected to bat first.
Australia opted to play just one spinner and three quicks, with Cummins joined by Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.
Pakistan have selected two specialist spinners, Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, as well as part-time tweaker Iftikhar Ahmed.
Australia lost the toss on a flat pitch expected to favour spin as the match wears on.
In the 11 Tests at Rawalpindi so far, only twice has the team batting first won.
This is Australia’s first trip to Pakistan since late 1998.
It is also Australia’s first Test tour anywhere since the 2019 Ashes.
Australia’s players are wearing black armbands in memory of Rod Marsh, who passed away on Friday.
Pakistan is without Haris Rauf after he tested positive for Covid 19. Australia spin consultant Fawad Ahmed is also isolating with the virus.
Pakistan is without seamer Hasan Ali and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf due to injury.
Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Pakistan XI: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The match: Pakistan vs Australia, first Test at Rawalpindi, March 4-8, first ball 4pm AEDT (10am local)
How to watch: Watch the match live on Fox Sports or stream on Kayo Sports
How to listen: SEN will be providing ball by ball for the entirety of the series.
Online coverage: Follow the match right here or join our match centre.
The time difference: Pakistan is six hours behind AEDT, five and a half behind ACDT, five behind AEST and three behind AWST.
FROM THE GROUND
Peter Lalor at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium
Pat Cummins said his top order would have to “bat and bat and bat” but it was a case of “bowl and bowl and bowl” as Pakistan moved to 1-171 at the tea break.
The visitors went wicketless in the second session with the wicket providing nothing much for seam and spin.
Imam-ul-Haq is 92* and on the verge of his first Test century with first drop Azhar Ali 30* at the second break.
The Australian toiled hard and held the scoring rate to around three an over but chances were few and far between.
Seven bowlers have been used in the first two sessions with Cummins rotating his quicks, giving his part timers a chance and introducing all-rounder Cameron Green for a short spell in the afternoon.
Australia was in early trouble in Pakistan with the home team 1-105 at lunch and doing it with ease.
It was a long session, figuratively and literally for the visitors, on the first morning of the Rawalpindi Test.
It took a crazy shot and a brilliant catch from Pat Cummins to bring a wicket, but Nathan Lyon needs some credit for doing opener Abdullah Shafique just before the break.
The session was extended for Friday prayers and was an epic for the Australians who had Lyon early and went through five bowlers _ including Travis Head who contributed three either side of the drinks break.
Pakistan won the toss and picked additional spin, the Australians went line and length with Josh Hazleood replacing Scott Boland and Lyon the only turner.
The inexperienced Imam-Ul-Haq has been brought back in after three years in the wilderness started slowly but looks assured, undefeated on 57 from 99 balls.
His opening partner Abdullah Shafiq threw it all away trying to hit Lyon over the top one time too many. He did not get to the pitch of the ball and was well held by Cummins who had to track a spiraling sky ball.
The question has to be asked: Have Australia got selection wrong in the first Test match of the Benaud Qadir trophy?
Maybe the selectors should have read the fine print on the trophy: Abdul Qadir and Richie Benaud were not seamers.
When Travis Head is brought on to bowl his part timers 70 minutes into the morning it could be seen as creative captaincy but it could also be interpreted as an admission you are a slow bowler short.
Even before drinks on the first morning there was a sense that Australia might be a spinner short.
Lyon was getting significant spin and bounce when brought on to bowl early.
Conditions are only going to get more favourable for the slow bowlers.
The Pakistan side has spinners almost from top to tail with Sajid Khan, Nauman Ali and Iftikhar Ahmed named alongside just two seamers: Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah.
If that’s not enough they’ve got Fawad Aam offering additional support.
Within a couple of overs the bowlers footmarks had broken through the wicket and were offering.
Australia had a few close calls early in the match but edges fell short, LBWs were too high and luck was with the home side
Pakistan won a critical toss and took the best of batting conditions on the first morning of the Rawalpindi Test.
Australia brought back Josh Hazlewood for Scott Boland and did not opt for a second spinner – as expected.
The home team has only two seam bowlers which is a sure signal they expect the wicket to turn as the game goes on and makes the toss all the more important.
The teams are wearing black arm bands for Rod Marsh and gathered for a minute’s silence before play in the first Test to feature an Australian side for 24 years.
The significance of the occasion was marked by the chief executives of both sides, the ICC and the Australian players association before the match.
The gratitude Pakistan feels to see a side in the country and at the ground is immense. There has been so little cricket here for the past two decades. England wouldn’t travel here late last year and New Zealand headed for the airport to go home on the morning of their first game.
So, it was a relief to see two buses enter the ground.
Todd Greenberg offered an apology to locals whose lives are disrupted by all the security, but there have been no complaints.
Pakistan cricket’s chief executive Faisal Hasnain marked the return of the Australians to Pakistan on Friday morning and paid tribute to the player.
“This series is about much more than just cricket, it is about mutual respect, understanding and admiration, it’s about all sides working together toward a common objective and with sincere intent,” he said.
Greenberg admitted players had been hesitant at first but the effort by the two boards had reassured them all and ensured Australia sent a full Test squad.
It is the first time an Australian Test side has left its own shores since the 2019 Ashes.
While the game is sold out the stands were almost empty at the start of play as the public made their way through the largest security cordon ever seen in cricket.
There are said to be over 4000 security personnel involved.
IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS
Why Pakistan is favourite
Pakistan has won four of its five home Tests since international cricket returned. It drew the other.
Australia has won just two of its 17 Tests in Asia in the past 10 years.
Babar Azam averages 110 across three Tests at Rawalpindi.
Why Australia can win
Australia actually won its last Test series in Pakistan 1-0.
Australia is the No.1 Test team in the world after winning the Ashes 4-0.
Khawaja averages 70.85 against Pakistan, Warner 108.4, Labuschagne 71.33 and Smith 53.92.
Form (most recent first)
Originally published as Pakistan vs Australia, first Test: Live updates from day 1 in Rawalpindi