Mohammad Hafeez top scored with 126 on day one of the first Test.
Mohammad Hafeez top scored with 126 on day one of the first Test.

Centurion Hafeez backs hosts to set Australia a monster total

Australia's bowlers face an enormous challenge to stem the bleeding on day two of the first Test in Dubai with Pakistan centurion Mohammad Hafeez predicting ace legspinner Yasir Shah will be the difference late in the match.

Pakistan will resume on Monday at 3-255 with Haris Sohail (15) and nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas (one) at the crease at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Recalled spinner Jon Holland struck in the fourth-last over on Sunday to remove danger man Azhar Ali (18) and cap off a dominant final session for Australia.

But the hosts remain firmly in the box seat after opening duo Hafeez (126) and Imam-ul-Haq (76) combined for a 205-run stand while Australia's bowlers toiled in 39C heat.

The road-like pitch offered minimal assistance to Australia's bowlers but it is expected to deteriorate, with Yasir looming large over any potential fourth- innings chase.

"We are still happy as a team because we have 250 on the board," Hafeez said.

"Still if we can manage to get 200 more runs on the board in the first innings then we will have a better chance to bowl with our spinners.

"We know Yasir Shah is our matchwinner in these conditions and we have a debutant (offspinner Bilal Asif) who is a wonderful bowler.

"We really back ourselves to get 450 on the board in the first innings and then we will have all the chance to put more pressure on the Australian batsmen."

 

Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan celebrates his day one century.
Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan celebrates his day one century.

Returning to the venue where he plundered 302 (not out) against West Indies in 2016, Azhar had loomed as a major threat before holing out to Mitchell Starc at mid-off with an inexplicably-timed attempt to smash Holland over the boundary.

Pakistan went to tea at 0-199 but their scoring slowed to a crawl after Nathan Lyon broke the drought in the second over of the final session, luring Imam (76) into a false shot with the faint edge well held by Tim Paine behind the stumps.

Veteran workhorse Peter Siddle (1-23) then trapped Hafeez lbw with the decision confirmed on review.

Both Starc and Siddle were able to generate reverse-swing late in the day and the Australians will weigh up whether to take the new ball immediately on Monday or continue with an old ball which has been heavily worn by the dry deck.

Starc struggled in the punishing conditions late in the day, grabbing at his groin after one delivery and collapsing with debilitating cramp in his second- last over before returning for one last crack at the nightwatchman Abbas.

"It's always funny for the other blokes out in the field when one of their teammates is cramping up, but he's feeling alright," Siddle said with a grin.

"He's always going to be used in a lot of short spells throughout the day, and I think that's what he's come to expect ... he'll rest up tonight and he was fine coming off."