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Bilal's six-for gives Pakistan the grip despite late blows

Bilal Asif takes off on joyride Getty Images

Pakistan 45 for 3 (Imam 23*, Holland 2-9) and 482 all out lead Australia202 all out (Khawaja 85, Finch 62, Asif 6-36, Abbas 4-29) by 325 runs

The model remains the same, only the specifics vary. This Test match, like most in the UAE, is beginning to take shape around a resounding Pakistan victory.

On a day where they were every bit as dominant as any in the lopsided 2014 series between these two, Pakistan sliced through Australia with consummate ease. Once the opening partnership of 142 had been broken - thanks to intelligent field placing and a magnificent low catch at silly mid-on from Asad Shafiq - Pakistan were all over Australia. Debutant Bilal Asif did a bulk of the damage to pick six wickets in a magnificent spell of offspin on a surface that has just started to wake up.

Usman Khawaja and debutant Aaron Finch helped themselves to half-centuries after overcoming a probing opening burst early in the day. Then the familiar Australian subcontinent collapse came about as they lost 10 for 60 to make it the seventh time since July 2016 that they lost all 10 wickets for under 100. Asif took six and was supported superbly by fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, who bowled with characteristic discipline to pick four wickets.

There was never a question of enforcing the follow-on in this weather with the pitch beginning to take sharp turn. It meant Pakistan had to bat 17 overs to see out the day, but at the end of it, lost three of their own, including those of batting lynchpins Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. In between those two, they also had to see Asif walk off after being sent in as nightwatchman with 30 minutes remaining. Pakistan ended on 45 for 3, leading by 325 overall, not even the late collapse being any reason for them to fret yet.

The crucial breakthrough earlier in the day was the wicket of Khawaja. His foot movement was impressive against both pace and spin, and he looked comfortable with most of the shots he played. The early signs suggest the positive mental space he talked about occupying is already paying dividends.

While Finch had fallen to the consistency of Abbas and the brilliance of Shafiq, Khawaja continued his assured progress towards what looked like an inevitable first hundred in Asia. He had been playing the sweep shots - paddle and reverse - chancelessly all day, but in the 62nd over, he was punished for misjudgment. He attempted to paddle a Bilal delivery that was far too short to sweep, and could only get the leading edge on it. It scooped up to short leg, and a despondent Khawaja found himself trudging back 15 runs short of a hundred.

That exposed the middle order on a wicket it appeared hard to get a start on, and a confident Bilal was on the prowl. After troubling debutant Travis Head for much of the left-hander's embattled nine-ball stay at the crease, he found his outside edge as Head looked to drive with the spin, only succeeding in guiding the ball to second slip. Two balls later, another debutant, Marnus Labuschagne, was walking back without scoring, having inside edged a straighter one onto his pad to short leg.

There was negligible resistance after tea, the bottom half folding for 19 runs in under 11 overs. As with the previous session, Asif and Abbas were the only ones among the wickets, Yasir Shah went wicketless for the first time in his career in the UAE.

Before lunch, Finch and Khawaja had looked positive and undaunted, and ensured Pakistan began the day with a wicketless session. They took the attack to any bowler, no matter his reputation, both scoring an unbeaten half-century by lunch. Where Pakistan's run-rate stayed under three throughout the innings, the Australians were much more positive, adding 107 to their overnight score as they took lunch having chiseled 137 runs out of Pakistan's colossal 482.

Pakistan would have had plenty of reason to be confident this morning with a Test debutant at the crease with a player who averaged under 15 in Asia. But Finch and Khawaja played like men to whom those descriptions didn't apply.

Finch made it a point to consistently come forward to Yasir Shah, never really allowing the bowler to settle on a length. A smashed six down long-on from Finch off him was the shot of the morning, evocative of the player who's established such a fearsome reputation in the limited-overs game. He brought up his half-century on debut with a commanding sweep off Bilal.

It had looked so promising for Australia then, but Pakistan demonstrated, just as they had with the bat, that they were willing to be patient. As they inexorably move towards taking a 1-0 lead here, Australia will be left to wonder what more they have to do to stem the catalogue of collapses that have blighted their Test performance for the past few years.