MELBOURNE: Skipper Steve Smith had an unbeaten half-century as Australia reduced Pakistan’s first innings lead to 48 runs by lunch on day four of the second Test in Melbourne on Thursday.
Smith reached the interval unbeaten on 61 off 107 balls with rookie Nic Maddinson, badly needing a big score to protect his Test place, not out seven in Australia’s 395 for four.
Australia added 117 runs off 34 overs in the extended morning session and were poised to take the lead during the afternoon.
Usman Khawaja was dismissed on 97 for the second time this season when he played away from his body and edged Wahab Riaz to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
He faced 12 balls for two runs Thursday before he was out in the day’s fifth over and left the ground with his head bowed.
Khawaja also missed out on a century against South Africa in the second innings of last month’s first Test in Perth.
Peter Handscomb claimed his third half-century in his three Tests to push along the Australia scoring.
He was dropped off a sharp caught-and-bowled chance by Mohammad Amir on 51, but three runs later he found Sami Aslam at point off Sohail Khan.
Handscomb, playing on his home pitch, added 92 runs with Smith off 141 balls.
Maddinson, under pressure after scores of 0, 1 and 4 in his three Test innings, looked composed during the 20 balls he faced before lunch.
Paceman Riaz continued to have problems bowling no-balls and has overstepped 12 times in the 23 overs he has bowled so far.