Starc strikes early in Pakistan's chase of 317

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Starc dismissed Shafique early
Starc dismissed Shafique early © Getty

After being asked to chase 317 to level the series, Pakistan lost opener Abdullah Shafique early. The visitors could've nearly been three down by Lunch break, but both Shan Masood and Imam Ul Haq survived scares to drag Pakistan to the break at 25/1.

Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc aimed to consolidate on the good work done by Mitchell Marsh on Day 3 to push Australia ahead in the morning session. The pair made a solid start to take the lead past 250 before Shaheen Afridi brokethrough first and paved the way for a quick wrapping up of the innings. He coaxed Starc to attempt a drive away from his body and nicked him off to leave Australia on 210 for 7. Pat Cummins walked out to a big reception at the MCG and combined with Carey to add 28 runs in the next 7.4 overs before Aamer Jamal dismissed him. The inside edge off Cummins's bat to the keeper was faint but the umpire ruled him out. The Australian captain took back a review with him.

Australia soon took their lead past 300 in the first hour but Jamal made another incision by cleaning up Nathan Lyon. Carey got to his fifty in the company of Josh Hazlewood but was then trapped leg before Mir Hamza to end Australia's essay on 262.

Starc got some swing back into the right-hander Shafique early on, but conceded eight runs in the opening over. The next three overs however, fetched nothing as Hazlewood and Starc bowled the right lengths to keep both Shafique and Imam tied down. The pressure of not getting the scoreboard moving consumed Shafique as he attempted a big drive away from his body on the first ball of the fifth over, edging it to Usman Khawaja at third slip.

After peppering new batter Shan Masood with a few short balls, Nathan Lyon came into the attack against both left-handers - who he dismissed in the first innings. He thought he'd done the double over the Pakistan captain when an appeal for a leg before was ruled in his favour, but Masood after much deliberation took a review. As it turned out, he was saved by the bounce that took the ball well over the stumps.

An over later, Starc had a tough caught-and-bowled chance against Imam but he couldn't get his hands behind it fully on follow through. The two Pakistan batters survived to take the team to the first break of Day 4.

Brief Scores: Australia 318 & 262 (Mitchell Marsh 96, Alex Carey 53, Steve Smith 50; Shaheen Afridi 4-76, Mir Hamza 4-32) lead Pakistan 264 & 25/1 (Mitchell Starc 1-19) by 292 runs




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