Usman Khawaja’s runfest in Pakistan has continued, but Steve Smith was undone by a flappy pad as Australia finished at 5-232 after an intriguing opening day of the third Test in Lahore.
Australia slumped to 2-8 in the third over when David Warner (seven) and Marnus Labuschagne (0) fell within the space of three balls to left-arm paceman Shaheen Afridi (2-40).
Khawaja (91) and Smith (59) combined for a 138-run stand to turn momentum back Australia’s way, before Pakistan hit back late in the day to even up proceedings.
Cameron Green (20no) and Alex Carey (8no) will be aiming to build Australia’s total when play resumes on Tuesday.
Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan, scored 97 in the first Test and he followed it up with scores of 160 and 44 not out in the second.
The 35-year-old continued to heap more pain on Pakistan on Monday in Lahore, but he did receive a slice of luck along the way.
Khawaja was on 12 when he edged spinner Nauman Ali to first slip – only for the ball to sneak under the fingertips of captain Babar Azam and through his legs.
Then next ball, Nauman dropped a sharp caught-and-bowled opportunity when Smith was on 19 and the scoreboard read 2-44.
The missed chances proved costly, with Khawaja and Smith settling after that to guide Australia out of danger.
Smith was eyeing off his first Test century since January 2021, but his hopes were crushed when his bat hit the flappy part of his back pad and he was trapped plumb lbw by Naseem Shah.
The former Test skipper started walking off even before the umpire raised his finger.
Khawaja was on track for his second ton of the series before Sajid Khan produced a brilliant one-handed catch at slip to send him packing.
Earlier, Australia won the toss and elected to bat on what was initially expected to be a docile pitch.
But it was carnage early as both Warner and Labuschagne fell victim to a chatty Afridi.
Warner was trapped lbw to a ball that would have gone on to hit leg stump.
And two balls later, Labuschagne was sent packing when he edged through to the wicketkeeper.
Smith was in the zone as he set about launching the rescue mission, with his steely concentration only broken when he expressed displeasure at the roving ‘buggy cam’ distracting him.
The 32-year-old took 154 balls to reach his half-century, but he cut a frustrated figure when he was trapped plumb in front.
Travis Head received a life on seven when Khan badly mistimed a caught-and-bowled opportunity, but the South Australian was out for 26 when he edged Shah behind.
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