You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Australia take honours at MCG before rain

AAP logoAAP 25/12/2016 Roger Vaughan and Michael Ramsey

Pakistan are in early trouble again, grinding to 4-142 before rain ruined the last session on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq (11) and fellow veteran Younis Khan (21) continued their lean form in the gloomy conditions as the Australian attack seized the initiative.

While Australian captain Steve Smith also would have batted had he won the toss, Pakistan lost wickets at crucial moments.

For all their late heroics at the Gabba, Pakistan were also rolled for 142 in their first innings.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said right up to the last ball before lunch, he was happy with their progress.

But Josh Hazlewood had Babar Azam well caught by Smith at second slip for 23, leaving Pakistan 2-60 at the break.

Jackson Bird then shone in the middle session, producing a superb delivery to bowl Younis between bad and pad.

Nic Maddinson also took a reflex catch at short leg of Bird's bowling to dismiss Misbah.

Only 50 overs were bowled on Monday, with rain meaning no more play after an early tea break.

Rain is also forecast for the remaining four days of the Test.

Pakistan now badly need a big stand from opener Azhar Ali (66) and first-Test hero Asad Shafiq (four not out).

"Up until the last ball before lunch, I was really happy," Arthur said.

"Batting first at the MCG, the first two hours you always give away to the bowling team.

"We kept on building, but just couldn't get a big enough partnership to put them under pressure for a long enough period.

"We're probably just a little shy at the moment but if we can get ourselves up to 280, 300, we'll be very happy."

Pakistan are scoring at less than three runs an over, with Azhar taking 95 balls before he scored his first boundary.

Arthur said the slow progress was not their intention, arguing instead that Australia bowled well.

He also pointed to Yasir Shah, confident their star leg spinner can have a massive impact if Pakistan can set Australia a fourth-innings target.

Certainly Australia's Nathan Lyon has already showed there is something in this wicket for the spinners.

Smith brought on Lyon in the first hour and it was a masterstroke.

Instead of a planned crowd chant in his honour, Lyon's third delivery produced the first wicket of the innings when he had Sami Aslam caught by Smith at first slip for nine.

After speculation about how they might recover from their first Test workload, Bird, Hazlewood and fellow paceman Mitchell Starc all looked strong.

"All the guys have pulled up pretty well, we've had a cruisy sort of lead-up to the game," Bird said.

"We had a fair bit of rest and didn't bowl too many overs, so we were all ready to go this morning.

"We bowled pretty well as a group.

"The first hour tomorrow is going to be crucial. If we can get one or two quick wickets, get Azhar Ali out early, then I think we're well on top in the game and we can look to push the game forward after that."

There was only change for the second Test, with Pakistan bringing in Sohail Khan for Rahat Ali.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon