Azhar’s ton for Pak­istan amid rain in Aus­tralia Test

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Open­ing bats­man Azhar Ali led the way as Pak­istan con­sol­i­dated their first in­nings on a rain-hit sec­ond day of the sec­ond Test against Aus­tralia in Melbourne yesterday.

Only 50.3 overs were pos­si­ble af­ter 50.5 overs were bowled on Mon­day’s open­ing day as rain again cur­tailed play. At the close af­ter rain forced an early fin­ish, the tourists re­sum­ing at 142 for four were 310 for six with Azhar pro­vid­ing the foun­da­tions.

Azhar was un­beaten on 139 with Mo­ham­mad Amir hit­ting a breezy 28 off 23 balls with six fours try­ing to lift the scor­ing rate af­ter the dis­missals of Asad Shafiq and Sar­fraz Ahmed. Aus­tralia still believe the weather won’t pre­vent a re­sult in the match. “Know­ing the MCG quite well, it’s usu­ally good to bat day three and four so we’re still well and truly in the game,” Aus­tralia bowl­ing coach David Saker said. “We can’t con­trol the weather. There’s still a lot of time left in the game.”

Azhar, play­ing in his 56th Test, raised his 12th Test cen­tury and third against Aus­tralia with two runs be­hind the wicket to fine leg. Azhar’s hun­dred came off 218 balls in 338 min­utes and con­sol­i­dated his po­si­tion as Pak­istan’s lead­ing run­scorer this cal­en­dar year.

At the close Azhar had scored 1089 runs for the fifth high­est ag­gre­gate for the year. The last Pak­istan opener to carry his bat through a Test in­nings was Im­ran Farhat (117 not out) against New Zealand in Napier 2009. It has never been done in Pak­istan’s Tests against Aus­tralia.

Only Mohsin Khan with scores of 152 and 149 back in 1983 has posted higher scores than Azhar as an open­ing bats­man for Pak­istan in Aus­tralia.

Pak­istan will look to push their first in­nings to­tal on be­yond 350. “To­mor­row, let’s see how the weather is, whether it’s go­ing to be hot or cloudy as well, so it de­pends how the wicket will re­act,” Pak­istan pace­man Wa­hab Riaz said.

“Ob­vi­ously we’re go­ing to bat for a bit and then we can an­a­lyse how the wicket is be­hav­ing.”

Shafiq reached 50 be­fore he gave skipper Steve Smith his third catch of the in­nings end­ing an 115-run part­ner­ship with Azhar. Jack­son Bird got one ball to seam away and Shafiq was forced to play a shot and edged to Smith at sec­ond slip for his third wicket.

Shafiq, who scored a fight­ing 137 in Pak­istan’s nar­row loss in the first Gabba Test, faced 123 balls for his 18th Test half­cen­tury over three hours.

Josh Ha­zle­wood got his re­ward for his nag­ging ac­cu­racy with the wicket of Sar­fraz Ahmed for 10, snapped up by Matt Ren­shaw at first slip. Ha­zle­wood sent down 26 overs for the miserly fig­ures of two for 33 with 11 maid­ens.

Mitchell Starc had prob­lems with his front land­ing foot and strug­gled wick­et­less for 77 runs off 23.2 overs. Light rain sent the play­ers from the field mid­way through the open­ing ses­sion, be­fore play re­sumed and was then stopped again just be­fore lunch. It in­ten­si­fied dur­ing the lunch break and pre­vented any play to tea af­ter wash­ing out play post-tea on Mon­day’s open­ing day. A to­tal of 78 overs have been lost so far, but play is sched­uled to start 30 min­utes ear­lier each day for the re­main­der of the match. But more show­ers and storms are fore­cast over the re­main­ing three days. — AFP

MELBOURNE: Aus­tralia’s Nic Maddin­son (L) at­tempts to run out Pak­istan bats­men Asad Shafiq (R) on the sec­ond day of the sec­ond cricket Test match in Melbourne yesterday. — AFP

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