Aamer Jamal leads Pakistan's fightback in Sydney Test

Visitors fight their way to 313 with fifties from Rizwan, Jamal and Salman after Australia quicks strike early

Pakistan's Aamer Jamal on his way to a score of 82 off 97 balls on the first day of the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 3, 2024. Getty Images
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Pakistan continued to defy expectations as they once again took the fight to the Australian camp, posting a respectable 313 on the opening day of the third Test in Sydney on Wednesday.

Australia captain Pat Cummins did take 5-61, but it was the visitors who ended the day's play happier as they stood up to the world champions for the second straight match, having pushed the hosts close all the way in Melbourne.

Pakistan were without pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi, who had been rested for the match with seemingly more important T20 assignments coming up.

That had further depleted a meagre bowling attack, which meant the batsmen had almost no cushion. And they had a horror start as Pakistan lost both openers without scoring.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood set the tone by each taking a wicket in the first two overs, before Cummins, coming off a ten-wicket haul in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, snared two wickets including the main scalp of Babar Azam as Pakistan crumbled.

Starc (2-75) struck with the second ball, teasing Abdullah Shafique into an uncontrolled drive that resulted in an edge to Steve Smith at second slip.

Hazlewood (1-65) struck in the next over when he had Saim Ayub edging through to Alex Carey in his debut innings.

From 4-2, Azam and captain Shan Massood started rebuilding the innings, with the former especially attacking the Aussie quick bowlers.

But the rally was short-lived as Cummins removed Azam (26) with a ball that came back at the right-hander and struck him on the pad. Umpire Michael Gough turned down the initial Australian appeal, but the TV umpire overturned the decision.

Saud Shakeel was Cummins' second wicket, edging behind to Carey to leave Pakistan's innings in tatters at 47-4.

Captain Masood (35) and Mohammad Rizwan shared a 49-run stand either side of the lunch break to steady Pakistan. Mitchell Marsh (1-27) ended that partnership by teasing an edge from Masood that flew through to Smith.

From there, Pakistan hit back with fighting half-centuries from Rizwan, Agha Salman and Aamer Jamal.

Rizwan clubbed 88 off 103 balls, number nine Jamal smashed four sixes in a spirited 82 off 97 and Salman hit 53 off 67 to give the tourists renewed hope.

Rizwan and Salman triggered the comeback with a spirited 94-run stand to defy the stellar Australia attack.

Rizwan, who had been dropped for the first Test, blasted two sixes and 10 fours off 103 balls before he fell to a legside trap set by Cummins.

Rizwan top-edged a pull shot for Hazlewood to take the catch at fine leg after posting the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman of the series.

Salman took up the cudgels with a half-century before he was caught by Travis Head off Starc.

Jamal maintained the fightback and was nearing a century before he fell to Nathan Lyon.

"When I came out to bat I knew the Australians were going to come hard after us, I was well prepared for that, they wanted to get us out as early as possible, so I was going after every ball," said Jamal.

"There was no personal milestone for me, because my milestone was just to represent my country and that I achieved. I was trying to get as many runs as I could."

David Warner, playing in his 112th and final Test, had to see off a tense final over before the close and survived a scare when the ball ricocheted just over his stumps off spinner Sajid Khan before finishing with six in Australia's reply of 6-0.

"Fair play to Aamer Jamal, he batted beautifully. We threw everything at him and I thought he batted really well," said Australia all-rounder Marsh.

"I think it finished a pretty even day. I think it's going to be a traditional SCG wicket with a lot of fielders in front of the wicket, we'll take that today."

Updated: January 03, 2024, 11:00 AM