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No slip-up for Carey this time as he takes 'little step in right direction'

The pool incident is unlikely to leave him for a while, but on the pitch, he steered Australia into pole position

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Alex Carey had already left his mark on this tour before today. Unfortunately, it was for falling into the hotel swimming pool which went viral on social media courtesy of his captain recording it and giving millions a good laugh.
It would be far too easy to therefore make reference to finding out whether he can sink or swim in Test cricket or whether he had been treading water since his debut at the start of the Ashes. So let's just leave it to the man himself before getting to the serious business.
"I've always wanted to have signs in the crowd to have my name on them but probably didn't expect it would be about falling in a pool," he said. "I still lay there at night time, can't really describe happened."
While his slip is unlikely to leave him for a while it was a timely day to also be remembered for what really matters: his performances in the middle. He took Australia into a surely impregnable position only to fall seven runs short of a maiden century in the closing moments when he missed a sweep against the part-timers of Babar Azam.
"I'm always disappointed when I get out. So close but unfortunately that's the way it goes," he said. "Thought I was pretty disciplined and patient throughout the day. To be honest I saw an opportunity to get one over cow [corner]. My head will probably hit the pillow tonight and have a few other shots go through."
These remain early days in a Test career that began rather hastily in early December (thrown in the deep end, perhaps) following the shock resignation of Tim Paine shortly before the Ashes. The succession planning was well in place, and it was little surprise when Carey assumed the position, but his handful of matches had not been without a few uneasy moments.
"I have full trust in my ability, the summer was really enjoyable..I feel like over the last couple of years I've been pretty consistent in red-ball cricket, the last dozen games in first-class haven't been my strongest but still feel really good out in the middle."
Alex Carey
It has been his glovework that has raised more questions after dropped catches against England and another couple put down in the opening Test in Rawalpindi. That side of his game will get a thorough working over in the next three days on a pitch where the ball is turning and uneven bounce could come into play. With Nathan Lyon joined by Mitchell Swepson there will be a lot of time spent up to the stumps. But he will take the gloves having contributed to the match as he carried Australia's innings through the final session and beyond 500.
He had made a maiden Test fifty against England in Adelaide and his slightly underwhelming batting returns in the Ashes needed a few asterisks by them: he offered to open in place of the injured David Warner for the small chase at the Gabba, only to edge behind with four runs needed, and gave his wicket for the cause in the second innings at the SCG the ball before Pat Cummins declared. However, coupled with only passing fifty once in four games for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield, it had left him a little thin on runs.
"Guess it was a little bit of reward for some hard work," he said. "I have full trust in my ability, the summer was really enjoyable…I went away from there with some learnings and take outs. I feel like over the last couple of years I've been pretty consistent in red-ball cricket, the last dozen games in first-class haven't been my strongest but still feel really good out in the middle."
While Australia were not in trouble when he arrived at the crease, they were certainly at risk of falling short of the type of total they wanted. Sajid Khan had trapped Travis Head lbw then produced a superb delivery to end Usman Khawaja's marathon innings. At 360 for 6 there was even a chance for Pakistan to keep Australia under 400 which would not have applied the scoreboard pressure Cummins wanted.
It was not an overly fluent display from Carey - he never flicked the switch into one-day mode - on a surface where timing has become harder work especially against the older ball. But a few strokes did stand out, notably a straight drive followed by a cover drive against Shaheen Shah Afridi with the third new ball and his brace of straight sixes off Sajid. When he lofts spinners (or quick bowlers) down the ground, he has as smooth a swing of the bat as any player while he also swept well, until his dismissal at least, in what is just the second of potentially nine subcontinental Tests over the next 12 months.
"Having the ability to sweep spin is probably going to be handy," he said. "I do that in Australia on reasonably flat wickets and I'll continue to do that. I probably looked at Usman's innings to be honest and the way he played was fantastic. He has one gear, basically, throughout and sticks to that.
"I stuck to my patience, my dismissal was probably otherwise, but when I came back into the rooms there were eight other blokes saying they would have played the same shot. I want to keep improving my own game but guess it's a little step in the right direction."
Unlike the one he took into the swimming pool.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo