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Australian bowlers toil with ball as Pakistan Test peters out into draw | Cricket

Australia’s struggles with the ball continued on a docile Rawalpindi fifth-day wicket, with the players eventually shaking hands after an inevitable draw that saw Pakistan amass 252 without loss in their second innings.

On another dominant day for batters, Abdullah Shafique scored his maiden Test century with 136, while opening partner Imam-ul-Haq made it twin tons for the game with his 111, becoming just the 12th man to do so against Australia.

In truth, Australia were never really interested in a contest that was over long ago, as captain Pat Cummins saved his bowlers with the second Test in Karachi starting on Saturday. He bowled himself for just four overs on Tuesday, as spinners sent down 55 of the 77 bowled.

Australia, Pakistan and the ICC will all be hoping for a better wicket there, with the Rawalpindi pitch offering next to nothing for the bowlers throughout the five days. But there will still be some concerns for the Australians with their inability to make any dent into Pakistan’s batting.

Australia took just four wickets for the Test, their fewest in history when sending down more than 200 overs. Their wickets also came at a cost of 182 per scalp, a figure only toppled by a Test in Faisalabad in 1980 when they took just two wickets in the only bowling innings.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood each ended up going wicketless for the match, while Cummins and Lyon claimed one each. There was also a second missed review for the match, with Imam surviving a ball that went to bat pad. But given the low intensity of day five it was hard to judge them for that. The day was best summed up when Shafique defended a ball and, as it began to roll backwards, the right-hander picked it up with his hand.

Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq on the attack.
Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq on the attack. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Attention will now turn to what mark the ICC give the Rawalpindi wicket, with match referee Ranjan Madugalle the same man who gave the MCG a “poor” rating in 2017. Under rules currently laid out by the ICC, a poor rating incurs three demerit points. Any ground which accumulates five over a five-year period receives a 12-month suspension from hosting international cricket.

Only 14 wickets were taken across the entire match, with Pakistan’s bowlers accounting for 10 of those as Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne narrowly missed centuries. In a sign of the bat’s dominance, Shafique and Imam’s unbeaten stand made it the third opening stand in the match to pass 100 – a first in 145 years of Test cricket.

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Any faint hope of a result was ended on Tuesday morning when Nauman Ali finished with career-best figures of six for 117, finishing off Australia’s tail in quick fashion. It meant there was no target for Pakistan to make the tourists bat again, as Australia finished at 459 in reply to the hosts’ first innings of 476 for four declared.

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