DUBAI (92 News) - Sarfraz Ahmed's aggressive 94-run knock on the first day of the second Test against Australia helped Pakistan recover from 57/5 and took them to a healthy position.
Ahmed's counter-attack after Pakistan were in trouble before lunch not only put the Australian bowlers off guard for a while but also took his team from a precarious position to that of respectability. His 147-run stand with Fakhar Zaman, who made a sedate 94, helped Pakistan get to 282 before Australia were 20/2 by the end of the day in Abu Dhabi.
"Whenever you score runs when your team needs you, it relaxes you both mentally and physically," Ahmed said. "I always play this way. Sometimes I click, sometimes I don't.
"Today when we went five down for 57 runs, I tried to play positive cricket and told myself to play attacking shots so they [Australians] are put on the back foot."
Zaman and Ahmed batted out almost the whole of the second session before Zaman was dismissed by Marnus Labuschagne last ball before tea. "I was able to get runs in two-three overs that really helped me and the team. Zaman gave me tremendous support," Ahmed said.
"I got a lot of confidence because of his rotation of strike, which I like from my partner. And he was playing his maiden Test match. He should definitely be credited for what he has done."
Even though they were bowled out for what looked like a below-par total on a day one Abu Dhabi pitch, Mohammad Abbas' two wickets late in the third session helped Pakistan make a comeback and end the day with honours shared.
With the pitch taking turn as early as day one, Australian spinners Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne were in the game quite early, picking up seven wickets between them.
"It is quite strange [to see spin in the first session]," Ahmed said. "It has never happened before. We weren't expecting the pitch to start turning one-and-a-half hours into play.
"Normally, it happens after the fourth day. This shows that this is quite a different pitch. We will try to get them out as soon as possible so we can post a big target for them to chase in the fourth innings."
The Pakistan captain also took a blow when a short delivery from Mitchell Starc hit him near the left elbow. He received some attention from the physio before carrying on batting but conceded that the bruise may turn into swelling later and that Pakistan may need a reserve wicket-keeper – they have Mohammad Rizwan as their reserve – on day two.
"The arm is not moving properly," he said. "It's a bruise, but I think it will have swelling later. I think Mickey [Arthur] was talking to the umpires about a reserve wicket-keeper tomorrow. That time when I was hit, I felt pain, but I hung on because I was approaching my century."