ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today won the toss and started batting in the first Test against Australia at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, which marked the revival of Pak-Australia cricket series in Pakistan after a gap of 24 years.
The openers, Abdullah Shafique and Imamul Haq, started strong batting with Pakistan not losing a wicket in the first two hours and made 71 runs in 22 overs.
Australia are in Pakistan for the first time in 24 years, having refused to tour since 1998 over security fears.
Before the start of the match, Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer Faisal Hasnain said the start of the first is a historic moment in Pakistan’s cricket history, adding that it sends a powerful message to the rest of the world.
Under bright sunshine after Thursday’s rain, Pakistan entered the Test with two frontline fast bowlers in Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, and two regular spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan.
“The pitch looks nice so we’ll try to put runs on the board,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said, predicting spinners would play a key role in the first match of the three-Test series.
In contrast, Australia are playing just one spinner in Nathan Lyon with all three frontline fast bowlers — Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and skipper Pat Cummins — to start.
The tourists also retained all-rounder Cameron Green, who was not even born when Australia last toured Pakistan.
Australia players wore black armbands in memory of former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh who died aged 74 on Friday.
A sell-out crowd of 16,000 is expected.
The second Test is in Karachi (March 12-16) and the third in Lahore (March 21-25).
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah.
Australia: Pat Cummins (captain), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Umpires: Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza