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Khawaja-Head resistance keeps Australia alive in Dubai

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(Reuters) – Usman Khawaja and Travis Head combined luck and pluck in an unbroken 128-run partnership for the fourth wicket to keep alive Australia’s slim hopes of forcing a draw in the first test against Pakistan on Thursday.

Set an improbable victory target of 462, Australia resumed on 136-3 hoping to bat out the final day to force a draw at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

The overnight pair of Khawaja and Head batted sensibly to deny the Pakistan attack in the morning session and guide their team to 215-3 at lunch.

Khawaja was batting on 82, having survived a bat-pad catch off spinner Yasir Shah after Pakistan decided not to review the reprieve even though snickometer spotted a faint edge. His patient knock included eight boundaries.

Debutant Head also had his share of luck as he followed his first innings duck with 70 not out.

He was on 44 when Shah’s lbw appeal was turned down and Sarfraz Ahmed did not review even though replays suggested the leg-spinner had trapped the batsman plumb in front.

Australia are still 247 behind the victory mark though a more realistic target for Tim Paine’s side would be to try and bat out the remaining two sessions to salvage a memorable draw.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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