Marsh & Smith rescue Australia against Pakistan

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BBC Online :
Australia took control of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne to end of day three with a lead of 241 runs over Pakistan.

The hosts were in trouble when they slipped to 16-4, for a lead of just 70, before Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith’s crucial fifth-wicket stand of 153.

Marsh scored 96 from 130 balls and Smith fell to the last ball of the day for 50 as Australia finished on 187-6.

Smith’s dismissal gave Pakistan hope, but they were left to rue Abdullah Shafique’s drop of Marsh on 20.

Pakistan started the day on 194-6, still 124 runs behind Australia’s first-innings score, but Mohammad Rizwan’s 42, and contributions of 33 not out and 21 from Aamer Jamal and Shaheen Afridi respectively, reduced their deficit to just 54.

Australia captain Pat Cummins finished with 5-48, his 10th Test five-wicket haul, while off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 4-73 as Pakistan were bowled out for 264.

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Pakistan fought back with the new ball as Australia opener Usman Khawaja fell to Shaheen from the second ball of their reply and Marnus Labuschagne was caught behind for four off the same bowler in the third over.

Mir Hamza then took two wickets in two balls, bowling David Warner for just six and Travis Head for a first-ball duck.

Marsh survived the hat-trick ball and led a mini-recovery with Smith to 46-4 before his reprieve at slip saw Pakistan’s confidence fade, the all-rounder reaching a counter-attacking 50 from 70 balls.

The impressive Hamza finished with 3-27 as Marsh was eventually caught off his bowling at slip by Salman Agha, before Smith’s contrasting innings of 50 from 176 balls was ended by him gloving a hostile short ball from Shaheen to gully.

Alex Carey will resume unbeaten on 16 on day four with Pakistan already facing a difficult chase on a wearing pitch.