Babar Azam reaches rearguard 67 for Pakistan in 1st test

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Babar Azam was unbeaten on 67 at lunch on day four in a rearguard innings for Pakistan against an Australian attack needing five wickets to clinch the first test.

Pakistan was 144 for five in its second innings on Sunday, still 196 runs in arrears with five sessions remaining. Australia has dominated the series-opener at the Gabba, plundering 580 in reply to Pakistan’s 240 for a first-innings lead of 340.

Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (13), playing in only his second test, have combined in a 47-run sixth-wicket stand after Pakistan lost two wickets within seven deliveries.

Azam has one test century, against New Zealand, but narrowly missed out in the win over Australia in Abu Dhabi in October last year when he was out for 99 in the second innings.

He raised his half century, his 12th in test cricket but first on Australian soil, with a cut boundary of Starc and has stroked eight boundaries in his 123-ball stand.

Pakistan almost navigated the first hour after resuming at 64-3, with Shan Masood getting a half-chance when he drove off-spinner Nathan Lyon to mid-off, where a diving Joe Burns almost took a spectacular catch. The 50 partnership came up later in the same over with a boundary from Azam, and Lyon was taken out of the attack after just two overs.

Again it was pace on the bouncy Gabba wicket that produced the vital breakthrough for Australia, when Masood (42) hooked rashly at a short ball from Pat Cummins (2-24) and was well caught by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

That ended a 68-run stand for the fourth wicket, and Iftikhar Ahmad (0) was out to a regulation caught behind off Josh Hazlewood (1-28) in the next over to reduce the visitors to 94-5.

Australia hasn’t lost a test match at the Gabba since 1988, while Pakistan hasn’t won a test match on Australian soil since 1995.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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