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UPDATE 1-Cricket-Australia edge closer to victory as Pakistan battle
December 17, 2016 / 11:23 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Cricket-Australia edge closer to victory as Pakistan battle

* Pakistan 70 for two at stumps

* Trail victory target by 420 runs (Adds details to close)

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Australia moved inexorably toward an emphatic victory in the first day-night test against Pakistan on Saturday as the tourists battled to the close on day three in Brisbane with two wickets down and 420 runs short of victory.

Pakistan were 70 for two, with Azhar Ali unbeaten on 41 and a desperately out-of-form Younus Khan yet to score from 19 balls at stumps on another steamy day at the Gabba.

After declaring Australia’s second innings closed at dinner, captain Steve Smith was disappointed his team were unable to make further inroads but they have plenty of time to grab the remaining eight wickets.

“It would have been nice to have one or two more (wickets) but I thought we worked hard today and got ourselves out in front of the game,” he said.

”(Pakistan) applied themselves pretty well.

“Hopefully, we can exploit (the wicket) tomorrow ... and hopefully get some rewards.”

The highest successful fourth-innings run chase is 418, set by West Indies at home against Australia in 2003 and only three other teams have won pursuing more than 400.

Ominously for Pakistan, the pitch began to show acute turn and bounce for spinner Nathan Lyon, who got Babar Azam out for 14 when he nicked to Smith at slip.

Mitchell Starc made the first breakthrough, removing Sami Aslam for 15 when he edged behind to first slip Peter Handscomb.

Smith declared at 202 for five, setting 490 for victory, having earlier declined to make Pakistan follow on though they were 88 runs short of the required target.

Australia lost two early wickets but Smith and Usman Khawaja wrested back the momentum with a swashbuckling partnership of 111.

Khawaja scored 74 and Smith, who top-scored with 130 in the first innings, smashed 63 off 70 balls as the home side all but batted Pakistan out of the game.

Smith was eventually dismissed by leg-spinner Yasir Shah after slogging to Rahat Ali at long-on.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq took a fine running catch to remove Khawaja off the bowling of Rahat.

Handscomb was unbeaten on 35 at the declaration.

Routed by Australia’s seamers late on day two, Pakistan were dismissed for 142 before tea, 287 runs short of Australia’s first-innings 429.

Josh Hazlewood was the pick of Australia’s bowlers with 3-22 off a miserly 14 overs while fellow seamers Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird also grabbed three wickets each. (Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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