Asad Shafiq provides strength to batting line-up as Pakistan collapses against Australia

BRISBANE: Pakistan are 227-8 after 81 overs in the opening day of the first Test against Australia in Brisbane on Thursday.

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Asad Shafiq is drawing in on a century having put 76 runs on the scoreboard.

Earlier, Australia’s pacemen found their length after lunch to take four wickets at the cost of three runs in one spell and left Pakistan rocking at 125 for five at tea.

Frustrated by openers Azhar Ali (39) and Shan Masood (27) in the opening session at the Gabba, the Australian quicks removed both in three balls after the break before swiftly adding the wickets of Haris Sohail (1) and Babar Azam (1) for one run apiece.

Iftikhar Ahmed (7) initially looked like he might engineer a recovery from 78-4 but off-spinner Nathan Lyon sent him packing for seven with the opening ball of his first post-lunch spell.

Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat on a hot and humid morning in Brisbane, but skipper Ali saw no demons in the notoriously lively Gabba wicket.

Ali and Masood respectively, began cautiously against the Australian pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who bowled quickly but without ever really troubling the Pakistan openers.

The Australian fast men — Starc, Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (0-5) — struggled to find a good length and were often too short, with Ali and Masood content to let many of the deliveries pass harmlessly through to the keeper.

The visitors crawled to 33 at the first drinks break and took almost two hours to reach 50, bringing up the half-century opening stand with a Masood boundary through square leg in the penultimate over before lunch.

Pakistan had earlier caused a major surprise when they left out experienced seamer Mohammad Abbas, opting instead for pacemen Shaheen Afridi, Imran Khan and 16-year-old Naseem Shah, who were impressive in their lead-up game against Australia A.

“It was difficult to leave out Mohammad Abbas,” Ali said at the toss.

“But sometimes form can take over and we know he’s very good and our number one bowler, but at the moment these three pacers are doing the job and we picked them.”

As expected, Australia brought in Joe Burns to open alongside David Warner and recalled Travis Head in the middle order.

With input from AFP/REUTERS.

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