Australian opener Usman Khawaja missed out on a century in the country of his birth by three runs Sunday as his side made a strong response to Pakistan on the third day of the first Test in Rawalpindi. Bad light stopped play and then rain poured down with Australia on 271-2, trailing Pakistan by 205 runs with eight wickets remaining after the home side declared Saturday at 476-4. Marnus Labuschagne was on 69 and Steve Smith 24. With rain forecast for the last two days a result is unlikely. The second Test in Karachi from March 12-16, and the third in Lahore from March 21-25.
It could have been a memorable day for Khawaja had he completed his 11th Test century in Pakistan, where he was born in 1986 before his parents emigrated to Australia.
The left hander was caught at forward short leg by Imam-ul-Haq for 97 as he gloved a reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Nauman Ali.
Umpire Aleem Dar ruled him not out, but Pakistan were given the wicket on review.
Labuschagne, the current number-one batter in Test rankings, continued where Khawaja and Warner had left off, stroking nine exquisite boundaries.
He and Smith have added 68 for third wicket and defied Pakistan’s spin duo of Sajid and Nauman, who took a wicket each in the post-lunch session.
Khawaja’s 219-minute knock included 15 boundaries, and he put on 156 for the opening wicket with David Warner, who made an attractive 68.
Warner fell in the eighth over after lunch when he missed a square drive and was bowled by off-spinner Sajid Khan.
Earlier, Khawaja and Warner scored at more than four an over in the morning session, a contrast to the Pakistan first innings which lasted two days and 162 overs.
Pakistan’s seam bowling duo and their three slow bowlers found the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch as unresponsive as the tourists did on the first two days when only four wickets fell, with little spin and no reverse swing.
But Pakistan only had themselves to blame for not making a crucial breakthrough as Khawaja was dropped twice in a clumsy fielding display by the hosts.
Fawad Alam spilled a straightforward chance at gully off a miscued cut when Khawaja was on 22, much to the disappointment of bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Khawaja took full advantage of the reprieve, hitting three successive boundaries before reaching his 15th Test half-century off just 67 balls.
He was also let off by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan when on 62, he gloved a chance while trying to reverse-sweep a Nauman delivery.
Australia are on their first tour to Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to tour the country over security fears.
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