Lyon falls just shy of reaching 500 wickets as Australia increase their lead against Pakistan.

Australia’s bowlers distributed the wickets amongst themselves on Saturday, with Nathan Lyon having to wait a little longer for his 500th wicket. Pakistan were dismissed for 271 in their first innings, giving the hosts a 300-run lead after three days of the first Test. The off-spinner currently sits on 499 Test wickets, after taking three for 66. Imam-ul-Haq was the top scorer for Pakistan with 62, as they were bowled out in 101.5 overs. Australia, choosing not to enforce the follow-on, ended the day at 84 for two from 33 overs, after posting 487 in their first innings.

“Batting seemed quite tough towards the end. As the game progresses, I believe the cracks will start to play a bigger role,” said Josh Hazlewood, who claimed one for 49 for Australia.

Starting the day at 132 for two, Pakistan almost lost Khurram Shahzad to a runout on the first ball of the day. However, captain Pat Cummins (two for 35) ensured no further damage was done by clean bowling the nightwatchman two deliveries later. Imam, who uncharacteristically stepped past a Lyon delivery and was stumped by Alex Carey, had consolidated with Pakistan’s premier batter Babar Azam (21). But a collapse before lunch resulted in the tourists losing three wickets for 14 runs.

Some resistance from Agha Salman (28no) provided some support for Pakistan, but when Aamer Jamal gave Lyon his second stumping for his 499th wicket, the crowd of 15,956 became excited, anticipating the impending milestone.

Part-time spinner Travis Head ended the innings when he tempted tailender Shaheen Afridi into a slog-sweep that was caught by Usman Khawaja at mid-on. “Travis said, when they replay your 500th wicket, you don’t want it to be a tailender, you want it to be a good wicket up the top,” joked Hazlewood.

In the post-tea session, Australia lost first innings centurion David Warner for a duck and Marnus Labuschagne for two, as Shahzad’s double-strike threatened to make the contest more exciting.

Shahzad and Afridi showed a better understanding of the Perth Stadium conditions in their second spell, aided by a slightly deteriorating pitch. They restricted the hosts to seven runs in the first 10 overs and bowled with increased aggression.

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Khawaja and Steve Smith slowly stabilized the innings, but not without a late scare when Smith hooked Afridi just over the head of the fielder at deep fine-leg for six. They ended the day unbeaten with Khawaja on 34 and Smith on 43.

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