1st Test, Day 3: Bilal Asif’s four trigger dramatic Australia collapse
Bilal Asif got Usman Khawaja for 85 during a four-wicket burst. @Getty

Spin made a belated but massive impact on day three of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai, with the 33-year-old debutant Bilal Asif triggering a dramatic collapse of four wickets for 11 runs.

This sudden burst of activity from Pakistan came after Australia’s latest opening pair of Usman Khawaja and the debutant Aaron Finch had batted through the morning session in stand worth 142. Eighteen runs after Finch was removed for 62 by Mohammad Abbas, it was Asif’s turn to strike courtesy a flashy drive outside off stump from Shaun Marsh (7) which was gobbled up at slip. From 160/2, Australia slipped to 167/3 when Khwaja, on 85, misjudged a paddle and got a leading edge.

The hard work was unravelling, but what came next was stunning. In three balls, Asif got the two other debutants, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, for ducks. Head edged to a diving Haris Sohail at gully and Labuschagne inside-edged to short leg.

Between the madness, Yasir Shah dropped Mitchell Marsh on 3 off his bowling, a proper sitter during his spell of 27-6-76-0 Marsh went into tea on 10 with Tim Paine on 6. Australia scored just 43 runs in the afternoon session, losing five wickets.

This was hard to envision after the good work achieved during the morning session, which saw Finch and Khawaja bat 33 overs to add 107 to Australia’s total. Yasir, in his first Test in a year, should have had Khawaja stumped on 17 in the fourth over of the day, but Sarfraz Ahmed failed to collect the ball after the batsman charged out. Khawaja, with two previous Test innings as opener in a 34-match career, bedded down for a solid innings. This has now meant that Khawaja has passed 50 each time he has opened: he made 145 versus South Africa in 2016, 79 not out versus Pakistan in 2017 and now this 85.

Finch raised his fifty on debut, off 95 balls with a mighty swept four off Asif, to justify the selectors’ decision to add him to the Test squad for the first time. He had some difficulties picking Yasir, but was saved by inside edges and top-edges to process to a pleasing fifty. Finch even struck his first six in Tests, slotting Yasir straight back over his head as his confidence soared on a docile batting track.

Shortly before lunch, Khawaja unfurled two superb reverse-sweeps off Yasir for four, before being rapped on the pads when he mistimed a regulation sweep. Sarfraz opted for the review, but Pakistan did not lose it as the umpire’s call stood.

Brief scores: Australia 180/5 (Khawaja 85, Finch 62, Asif 4/28) trail Pakistan 482 by 302 runs