Australia feel they have stuck to their task well in the first Test in Dubai, but unless they get wickets early on day two the game could slip beyond their grasp.
Pakistan won the toss on a lifeless pitch and reached 4-219 at stumps on Wednesday, led by Younis Khan’s 25th Test century and first against Australia.
Mitchell Johnson claimed 3-22 off 20 overs and admitted he was “stuffed” but the end of the day in temperatures in the mid-30s.
The left-arm quick says early wickets are the key for Australia, especially with the second new ball only 10 overs old.
Australia’s spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe failed to break through, although they are expected to find the pitch more to their liking in Pakistan’s second innings.
Misbal-ul-Haq will resume on Thursday on 34 and Asad Shafiq is nine not out.
Lyon was causing problems with sharp turn and lbw appeals in the final over of the day in positive signs for the offspinner.
“The first couple of overs are going to be important for us in the morning,” Johnson said.
“The wicket will probably break up a bit more and we have already seen pretty big footmarks out there.
“It is definitely going to turn a lot more. We saw Nathan Lyon turning it out of the footmarks late.
“Guys just have to be patient and that’s what we did today.
“We will use the new ball and hopefully we can get a breakthrough of early wickets and hopefully not too many more runs.
“It (batting) is just going to get harder as the game goes on.”
Pakistan had crawled to 3-125 at tea.
Mohammad Hafeez (duck) and Ahmed Shehzad (three) fell before the home side reached double figures.
Younis and Azhar Ali (53) added 108 for the third wicket.
Azhar on 22 was almost Johnson’s second victim shortly before lunch when he drove to point where Chris Rogers grassed a low chance.
Johnson finally got his man when Azhar was caught by Alex Doolan at short cover.
Younis on 99 reached his 25th Test hundred and first against Australia with a six off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon in the 80th over.
Younis hit 10 fours and one six off 223 deliveries, falling in the next over as Australia struck immediately with the second new ball.
Johnson trapped the veteran of 92 Tests leg-before in a key breakthrough.
It was the second time on Wednesday that left-armer Johnson had struck in the first over with the new ball.
“You have really got to use that new ball and make them play early on,” Johnson said.
“We knew we had to focus on getting the ball up there, hit guys on the pads or get nicks early on.”
An emotional former Test vice-captain Geoff Marsh presented his 23-year-old son Mitchell with his baggy green cap in a touching moment before play.
NSW spinner O’Keefe, 29, received his cap from ex-Test batsman Dean Jones as the team huddled around the new boys in an on-field ceremony.
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