World’s best set to light up night

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - SCOTT BAI­LEY Ade­laide

ARE Aus­tralia about to meet their pink ball match in Azhar Ali? The Pak­istan cap­tain, whose day-night record is un­matched by any bats­man in the world. In three Tests, Azhar has hit 456 runs at 91.20. Granted, 302 of those runs came against the West Indies on a dry pitch in Shar­jah in 2016, but it is still an im­pos­ing record. He hit 71 against Aus­tralia at the Gabba later in 2016 in a pink-ball match, and also had scores of 59 and 17 in his other day-night Test against Sri Lanka. “My pink-ball record, I have played three Test matches and I en­joy that,” Azhar said. “You have to ap­ply your­self dif­fer­ently. There are dif­fer­ent times of the game you have to play dif­fer­ently. “There is af­ter­noon, evening and then an hour-and-ahalf when the lights are impacting. “I will look to try and stay on ba­sics again. Hope­fully I can per­form again like I did in pre­vi­ous Test matches.” Aus­tralia have tra­di­tion­ally dom­i­nated pink-ball Tests. They are un­beaten in five where Mitchell Starc and Josh Ha­zle­wood have made them­selves at home. Pak­istan’s 450 against them in Bris­bane three sum­mers ago is the only time a team has scored above 260 against the Aussies. Azhar will move back to the No.3 spot for to­day’s Ade­laide Test, with Imam-ul-Huq ex­pected to come into the Pak­istan side as an opener. Haris So­hail is likely to be dropped, after two poor re­turns in Bris­bane. There is also spec­u­la­tion Babar Azam could move up the or­der to No.4, al­though Asad Shafiq’s pink-ball record is the third best in the world with 335 runs at 55.83. Azhar said the side would be of­fi­cially named to­day. “We will go with the two open­ers though and I will come and bat at No.3.” Mean­while, Pak­istan also have threats with the ball. While Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas is con­firmed to re­turn to trou­ble the Aussies with his move­ment, legspin­ner Yasir Shah also shapes as a dif­fi­cult prospect to pick. Bats­men tra­di­tion­ally find it hard to read the seam un­der lights, with Yasir’s 18 wick­ets with the pink ball the most of any spin­ner in day-night cricket. Aus­tralia brought up-and­com­ing leg­gie Lloyd Pope in to bowl to them in the nets in their main train­ing ses­sion on Wed­nes­day night. “He took a few wick­ets … he was hard to pick un­der lights,” skip­per Tim Paine said.

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