Australia scented victory at dinner on day four of the first day-night test against Pakistan in Brisbane on Sunday, having captured three wickets to leave the tourists 203 for five, still 287 runs short of their victory target.
Middle order batsman Asad Shafiq was 13 not out, with wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed on 17, and Pakistan’s hopes of saving the match appearing as gloomy as the weather.
Azhar Ali and Younus Khan’s session-long defiance had earlier given their side a sliver of hope, but all that evaporated after a Mitchell Starc intervention on a rain-interrupted day at the Gabba.
The left-arm paceman clipped Azhar’s glove through to wicket-keeper Matthew Wade to dismiss the number three batsman for 71 and end a 91-run partnership that had frustrated Steve Smith’s side.
A gloom had fallen over a stadium bathed in sunshine for the first three days and a collapse beckoned as spinner Nathan Lyon spun a web around the batsmen.
Jackson Bird was also bowling a grudging line and length and the pressure told on out-of-sorts captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who hung his bat out at the seamer and edged through to Wade for five.
After a nervous start on the back of a dreadful run of form, Younus had batted himself back into form with a fighting half-century but his resilience vanished with an appalling dismissal for 65.
With four wickets down, a straight bat was called for, but the 39-year-old was out attempting a flamboyant reverse sweep that succeeded only in launching a nick into the air for the easiest of catches to skipper Smith.
Any hope for Pakistan rests with a rearguard action from Sarfraz and Shafiq, but the batsmen will certainly face nerve-shredding tests during the evening session when the pink ball is at its most lively.
Pakistan were bowled out for 142 on day three, 287 runs short of Australia’s first innings total of 429 but Smith waived the chance to enforce the follow-on and sent his team in to bat the touring side out of the game.
Smith waited a long time to declare their second innings closed, until his team had put an improbable victory target of 490 on the board.