Australia take lead within reach of 500

Dinner Australia 429 and 5 for 202 (Handscomb 35*, Wade 1*) lead Pakistan 142 (Sarfraz 59*, Hazlewood 3-22, Bird 3-23, Starc 3-63) by 489 runs
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Coverdale: Not surprised Australia didn’t enforce follow-on

Australia strode to a lead of 489 over Pakistan after an impish rearguard by Sarfraz Ahmed had dissuaded Steven Smith from enforcing the follow-on, despite having a 287-run advantage in the first innings on a hot third day in Brisbane.

Smith and Usman Khawaja did most of the run-scoring in Australia’s second innings, but there was another low score for Nic Maddinson as the declaration was delayed until well beyond the world-record chase in Test cricket.

Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc had taken three wickets apiece to polish Pakistan off, before their openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw fell in the early search for quick runs.

Warner started aggressively but was undone when he tried to pull a delivery from Mohammad Amir that was not short enough for the stroke, succeeding only in shovelling the ball to mid-on. Renshaw was turned around by a late outswinger from Rahat Ali, edging to the slips.

Smith and Khawaja combined in an attractive stand. They swelled the lead with a mixture of the classical and the inventive, though neither was to go on to a century. Smith failed to clear mid-on to hand Yasir Shah a wicket, then Khawaja was well held by Misbah-ul-Haq in a similar position off Rahat. Peter Handscomb maintained his sparkling start to Test cricket with another useful contribution, but Maddinson managed only one boundary before he hooked to fine leg.

The third day had begun with Sarfraz and Amir facing an enormous task simply to prolong Pakistan’s innings, let alone avoid the follow-on. With a combination of quick singles and the occasional boundary they were able to take their ninth-wicket stand beyond 50 while compelling Smith to call upon Nathan Lyon and Bird, after trying Starc and Hazlewood.

It was Bird who eventually broke through, finding the thinnest of inside edges on Amir’s bat – revealed by HotSpot and Realtime Snicko after a decision referral. Amir was visibly annoyed, perhaps because the ball also appeared to brush his elbow after touching the bat.

Sarfraz went on to 59 in the company of Rahat, cutting back Australia’s lead slightly but more pointedly ensuring Smith did not risk enforcing the follow-on. Sarfarz’s wide array of shots included slog sweeping Bird, leading to one dropped catch by Maddinson at deep-backward square leg, before the innings concluded when Warner ran out Rahat by the width of a shadow over the crease.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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