Australia take the Sarfraz route
Sarfraz Ahmed might have dragged Pakistan's total into seriously worrying territory for Australia, seriously quickly, but they hope they can match his aggressive approach to keep themselves in the game. Sarfraz came to the crease at 291 for 5 on the second day in Dubai, and at that stage Pakistan were crawling along at 2.59 runs an over.
In the space of 80 deliveries, Sarfraz raced to the fourth-fastest Test hundred by a Pakistan player, eliminating any hopes Australia had of running through the tail quickly. By comparison, Younis Khan had inched to 20 from his first 80 balls, Azhar Ali had managed 22 from his first 80 and Misbah-ul-Haq had reached 25. Their results proved they were all valid approaches, but they weren't the only way.
After Pakistan had posted 219 from a grinding first day's play, Australians were no doubt wondering how they would manage to bat on a surface that was at times hard to read. By the close of the second day, David Warner had taken the Sarfraz approach and had hurried to 75 from 77 balls while his partner Chris Rogers went the Younis route with 31 from 110, but importantly they had lost no wickets.
"I think the wicketkeeper, Sarfraz, was outstanding," Australian spinner Steve O'Keefe said. "Even from ball one he just changed the tempo, more than a run a ball hundred. [He] looked to come out with positive intent and when they were going at two or two and a half an over his hundred was critical for them, to not only make a hundred but make it in the fashion that he did, basically a chanceless hundred. He batted beautifully.
"I think it goes to show that if you are positive on this wicket, you don't necessarily have to go at two an over. I think it goes to show, and the way that David Warner has batted tonight, how good our quicks have done to bowl so many maidens given we had [to bowl on] day one and probably the toughest of the conditions with that ball. Really, hats off to our quicks and the way they bowled."
Mitchell Johnson sent down 18 maidens from his 31 overs, the most in a Test innings by an Australia fast bowler since Glenn McGrath kept New Zealand from scoring off 20 of his overs in Auckland in 2005. Peter Siddle was also miserly with 11 maidens from his 24 overs, but there were a few more runs available for Pakistan off the Australian spinners including O'Keefe, who took 2 for 107 in his debut innings.
Australia could have been forgiven for being surprised at Pakistan's batting after their struggles in the limited-overs game, and by reaching 454 they have made life very difficult for Michael Clarke's men. However, Australia can take some heart from the fact that the last team to score 450-plus in a Test and lose was Pakistan, and it happened this year against Sri Lanka in Galle.
"There's no way that in these conditions you can underestimate the Pakistan team," O'Keefe said. "Particularly players like Younis Khan and the experience that they've got, Misbah-ul-Haq. We've already seen how good a form the wicketkeeper is in. That's his fifth [Test] innings in a row with fifties. We've certainly not underestimated them and we expected them to be tough. They've fought really well.
"But in saying that, that's what we expect out of ourselves as well, is when they're 5 for 400 that you keep fighting. You'll get little windows. Chris Rogers and Dave Warner went out again tonight after spending all day in the field and did what we wanted or expected of them, to go out and counter-attack and fight back hard. None for a hundred is a perfect position. But in these conditions things can change quickly, so if guys get in they'll be looking to make big scores."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale