Aus­tralia keep on ap­ply­ing the pres­sure

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

SYD­NEY: Pak­istan’s Azhar Ali and Younus Khan forged a 120-run part­ner­ship to stall a ram­pant Aus­tralia on day two of the third and fi­nal Test yes­ter­day af­ter a Peter Hand­scomb cen­tury had helped drive the hosts to 538-8 de­clared.

Opener Azhar, who hit a dou­ble cen­tury in the sec­ond Test de­feat in Mel­bourne that lost Pak­istan the se­ries, had con­trib­uted 58 to his side’s 126 for two at close of play, while vet­eran Younus had forged ahead of his part­ner with 64 not out.

Hand­scomb had ear­lier com­pleted the third cen­tury of Aus­tralia’s in­nings, match­ing open­ers David Warner and Matt Ren­shaw, as Steve Smith’s men poured on the runs be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion, which came seven overs be­fore tea.

Pace­man Josh Ha­zle­wood im­me­di­ately drove home the ad­van­tage by re­mov­ing debu­tant Shar­jeel Khan and Babar Azam cheaply in­side five balls to leave the hap­less tourists reel­ing at 16-2 at the sec­ond break.

Half cen­turies from Azhar and Younus may have raised Pak­istan’s flag­ging spir­its but the Aus­tralians will still be con­fi­dent of vic­tory and a se­ries sweep go­ing into day three at the Syd­ney Cricket Ground with a lead of 412 runs.

Hand­scomb had re­sumed on 40 with Aus­tralia 365-3 and never looked like miss­ing out on his sec­ond Test hun­dred, be­com­ing only the sec­ond Aus­tralian to score 50 or more in his first four Tests along the way.

Brought into the side with Ren­shaw in the wake of the Ho­bart hu­mil­i­a­tion at the hands of South Africa in Novem­ber, the 25-year-old has proved a rock in what had be­come a frag­ile Aus­tralian mid­dle or­der.

He brought up the mile­stone with a sin­gle off the 194th ball he faced and had nine fours on the board when he was out for 110 in bizarre cir­cum­stances.

A TV re­view showed he had got too deep into his crease when fac­ing a Wa­hab Riaz de­liv­ery and his bat had dis­lodged a bail, re­sult­ing in a rare “hit wicket” dis­missal.

Aus­tralia’s field­ers had the op­po­site prob­lem as they tried to break up Pak­istan’s third wicket part­ner­ship in the fi­nal ses­sion and Hand­scomb rued two missed run-out chances.

“It would have been nice to take one of those run out op­por­tu­ni­ties and you never know what could have come from there if we had them maybe four or five down,” he said.

“We just need to come out tomorrow (to­day) and keep that pres­sure on.”

Ren­shaw ear­lier fell short of dis­lodg­ing Don Brad­man as Aus­tralia’s youngest dou­ble cen­turian, the 20-year-old chop­ping on for 184 in the first hour of the day, and debu­tant Hil­ton Cartwright (37), Matt Wade (29) and Mitch Starc, who hit two huge sixes in his 16, also de­parted be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion.

Pak­istan coach Mickey Arthur ad­mit­ted bowlers Mo­ham­mad Amir and Yasir Shah were “not in good shape” - the lat­ter car­ry­ing a left ham­string in­jury - but thought the third-wicket stand had given his side a glim­mer of hope.

“The re­silience and char­ac­ter and in­tent that has been shown by Younus and Azhar has been a real ex­am­ple to the rest of the dress­ing room of how we need to play,” the South African said.

“We’ll carry on with same in­tent and see where that gets us tomorrow.” - Reuters

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