Pakistan's surprise selection 'Imran Khan' plays havoc upon Australian team
PERTH - If national selector Trevor Hohns and head coach Justin Langer had hoped for some clarity over the batting vacancies in the Australia men’s Test team by the performance of the Australia A side, they were left with anything but after the second day at Perth Stadium when the team slumped to 9 for 57 before regaining a modicum of respectability.
Imran Khan, a surprise selection for this tour, burst through Australia’s second string with 5 for 32 as Pakistan continued to show impressive signs ahead of the Test series and, for a while, it appeared the innings would be done inside the middle session.
However, they were hauled up to 122 by Cameron Bancroft – top-scoring at No. 6 with 49 – who wasn’t part of the side until Nic Maddinson withdrew a few days ago as he added 65 in 33.1 overs for the last wicket with Riley Meredith. The first nine wickets survived only 23.3 overs between them.
After a lean start to the Sheffield Shield, Bancroft was considered well down the pecking order for a recall and it would be astonishing if things had changed but it felt a little like that sort of day as others failed.
Joe Burns made a first-ball duck, incumbent opener Marcus Harris made 16, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head fell to the part-time offspin of Iftikhar Ahmed and Will Pucovski was also out cheaply. A second innings on the final day could yet prove decisive.
Pakistan were a bowler down in tragic circumstances following the death of 16-year-old Naseem Shah’s mother, with him given leave for the day. Pakistan were offered the opportunity to bring Mohammad Abbas into the team, but the game would have lost first-class status so they declined and continued with ten players.
Players from both sides wore black armbands. Pakistan’s overnight century-makers, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam, retired to allow others a hit and the total was lifted to 428 by the first interval, with Yasir Shah making a half-century. Jhye Richardson finished with 3 for 79, but in 118 overs Australia A managed just seven wickets.
It was a bit different when Pakistan got the ball. Khan struck with his first delivery when he beat Burns’ flat-footed drive and five overs later Harris was cleaned up by a beauty from Shaheen Afridi.
Being dismissed by high-quality pace bowling with the pink ball is one thing, but falling to Ahmed would not have been in the script.