ABU DHABI: Pakistan was two wickets away from another comfortable home series win against Australia in the second test on Friday.
Seamer Mohammad Abbas again jolted the Australia top order with four quick wickets in the first hour on day four and, by lunch, the visitors were 155-7 in a drizzle. Australia was given an improbable winning target of 538.
Looking to hold out for more than two days for a draw, Australia began the day on 47-1 and also without in-form opener Usman Khawaja. He didn't field on Thursday when he was hurt in the warmup, and Australia revealed on Friday he tore a cartilage in his left knee and won't bat in the second innings.
Khawaja saved Australia in the drawn first test in Dubai where he scored 141 and batted for more than 125 overs.
Nobody was showing that sort of grit on Friday.
Travis Head (36) and Aaron Finch (31) stretched their second-wicket stand to 61 runs before Abbas struck four blows in a high-class exhibition of seam and swing bowling on a slow turning pitch.
Head edged to substitute wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan after captain Sarfraz Ahmed went to hospital for precautionary scans when he woke up on Friday and complained of headaches.
Abbas then had Mitchell Marsh lbw on 5 when Pakistan successfully went for a video referral against umpire Richard Illingworth's not out decision.
Pakistan stand-in captain Asad Shafiq outsmarted Finch's tactic to stand well outside his crease while facing Abbas by making Rizwan stand close to the stumps, forcing the batsman inside the crease. The switch paid off as Abbas trapped Finch lbw, and two balls later captain Tim Paine was out without scoring while trying to leave the ball that nipped back enough and knocked over the off stump.
Abbas had four wickets in three overs, after taking 5-33 in the first innings.
Yasir Shah then had Mitchell Starc (28) and Peter Siddle (3) both leg before wicket.
Siddle could have survived but chose not to go for a video referral as the replays suggested the ball pitched outside leg stump.
Marnus Labuschagne was batting on 43 and shared the best partnership of the innings so far by adding 67 runs with Starc for the sixth-wicket stand. Shah had 2-42.