It was a day where there were plenty of wickets - 13, to be precise. Yet, it was a day where 325 runs were scored, with Australian batters adding 131 runs to their overnight total before Pakistan took a rather aggressive route, scoring 194, still trailing by 124 runs after day two's play of the second Test in Melbourne.
But the devil lies in the details, as Pakistan only have four wickets left to track down that first innings total.
Pakistan will rue as extras galore
Since 2000, only two teams - India and Pakistan - have conceded over 50 extras against Australia in a Test match. While India went on to draw the clash in New Delhi, Pakistan are under the pump for letting the hosts score 318 on a wicket that was quite tricky for the batters.
Marnus Labuschagne was the only Australian batter to cross the 50-run mark in the first innings of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with a well-timed 63. Guess the second-highest run-scorer of the innings?
Extras - 52 - the most in an innings at the MCG.
On day one, we explore how Pakistan were all over the place with their bowling, and nothing changed on the second day when they continued to be wayward, making life extremely tough for Mohammad Rizwan, who now has 15 byes against his name - none of which he could have got a hand. It is also the most extras conceded by a team in Australia since 1989.
Shafique and Masood exude a positive approach
When Imam-ul-Haq walked back to the dressing room, Australia sensed an opening. Pakistan’s skipper Shan Masood only scored 30 and 2 in the Perth Test; it was a perfect opportunity for Australia to get a seismic advantage in the clash. But all of those hopes were dashed briefly when Masood got along well with Abdullah Shafique.
Masood began more pragmatically than the previous Test, taking a cautious approach against the Australian bowling unit. However, his first boundary against Lyon was a statement. The left-hander stepped down and took the off-spinner down the ground for a four. And within minutes, he hit one better for a six. In the same spell, Lyon was hit for another boundary, with Masood treating him with disdain.
On the other hand, Shafique took fewer risks but kept the partnership ticking. At one point, the partnership was racing at nearly 6 RPO, bringing up the 50-run partnership in just 74 balls. If not for Cummins’ one-handed stunner, the partnership threatened to take the game away from the hosts with 90 off 118.
Pat Cummins’ inspired spell
Captain, Leader, Role Model, Breaker of Partnerships, Pat Cummins is a man of multiple titles.
He magically appears whenever Australia is in trouble, leaving the opponents distraught. It goes all the way back to his captaincy debut at the Ashes, and then it was widely on display when Australia toured Pakistan. It was a stunning one-handed grab in Lahore that tilted the series in Australia’s favour when he removed Azhar Ali.
It wasn’t any different here in Melbourne. At 124/1, Pakistan was well placed to challenge the Australian team, but then Cummins did the most Cummins of things and changed the match. The Australian skipper’s one-handed stunner began the turnaround when he removed a well-set Abdullah Shafique for 62.
In the same spell, Cummins saw the back of both Babar Azam and Agha Salman to break Pakistan’s batting unit. Cummins’ setup for Babar’s wicket was of top draw, with the all-rounder drawing the Pakistani batter forward before pegging him back with a stunning in-dipper. He then followed it to draw Salman with a tempting delivery outside off-stump.
Nathan Lyon shows why he is GOAT
Nathan Lyon is 500 wickets wise in Tests, but the pitch seemed like it was tailor-made only for the pacers. However, Lyon is built differently, and the off-spinner made an immediate impression on the game when he nearly caught Shafique padding a dangerous delivery.
In the third over, Lyon finally struck to break the partnership, removing Imam-ul-Haq, who played the ball away from his body, edging one to Labuschagne. It was almost like this entire stage was set for Lyon, but Masood had other ideas when he attacked the off-spinner.
Masood scored 22 off 22 against Lyon, with two fours and a six, which eventually forced Cummins to take Lyon out of the attack. But this is where Lyon is extraordinary; he knows how to make a comeback.
Eight overs after being hit mercilessly, Lyon came back with a slightly changed plan. While his lengths remained constant, his line was slightly wider for the left-hander, and a significant change in pace. It was bowled at 89.7, the second slowest that he bowled to Masood in the entire clash, with a wider line, forcing the left-hander to take the risk against him.
Lyon stands out from the others because of his ability to think on the go.
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