Australia opener David Warner scored his 17th Test hundred while Usman Khawaja remained unbeaten on 95 to put Australia in command on Day 3 of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, after Pakistan’s Azhar Ali scored his maiden double-century in the first innings.
Rain played a spoilsport on the first two days of the Test, but stayed away on Day 3 as both Pakistan and Australia scored heaps of runs, more than 400 in a single day to be precise. In morning, batting pair of Azhar Ali and Mohammad Amir started the proceedings for the visitors. On just the third delivery of the day, Mitchell Starc gave Australians the breakthrough as he removed the southpaw on 29.
Joined by the right-handed Sohail Khan, Azhar Ali then anchored Pakistan’s innings in a bid to put a hefty total on the board. Able to find the middle of the bat early on, Sohail smacked Nathan Lyon for four massive sixes. His muscular hits helped him register his maiden Test fifty, a crucial one to say the least.
After curbing Starc’s confidence completely, Sohail Khan fell short of reaching his crease as some smart work from Nic Maddison saw him walking back for a well-made 65.
After spending more than 500 minutes at the crease, opener Azhar Ali registered his maiden double-hundred in Test Cricket and became the fifth visiting batsman ever to achieve this feat at the MCG against Australia. The Pakistani camp along with the crowd stood up to the ovation as Azhar raised his bat in jubilation.
Hazlewood then stole some spotlight from Azhr Ali by picking up Wahab Riaz as he completed his 100th Test wicket with that. The visitors declared on 443 for eight with Azhar Ali carrying the bat on unbeaten 205.
In reply, David Warner started off with flurry of boundaries early on. Pakistan’s leg-spinner Yasir Shah then got rid off rookie Matt Renshaw, as the southpaw played the wrong line and found himself missing the ball completely.
Mohammad Amir-led bowling line-up tried putting the pair then, David Warner and Usman Khawaja, under some pressure but failed in their attempt, as the onslaught was unleashed from the other side. It took no time for both batsmen to get in and score runs at a good rate. In no time, Warner brought up his half-century and was approaching a Boxing Day hundred. During the innings, seamer Wahab Riaz found a gap between bat-pad of Warner, but later discovered it was a no-ball, giving the Australia vice-captain a crucial life.
It was just a matter of time when Warner brought up his 17th Test hundred, putting Australia in a relatively comfortable position on Day 3. Seemed unsatisfied with this, he perished the bowling attack with Khawaja taking hold of singles and doubles on the other hand. He was at last dismissed off Riaz’s delivery on 144. A thin feather on the bat helped the cause for Pakistan as they got the much required wicket.
In the last quarter of the game, captain Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja smartly dodged the session by avoiding any other wicket. Australia were 278 for two stumps, 161 runs behind Pakistan with two more days to go. Usman Khawaja was unbeaten on 95*.
At Stumps on Day Three:
Pakistan – 443/8d; Azhar Ali 205*(364), Sohail Khan 65(65), Josh Hazlewood 3/50.
Australia – 278/2; David Warner 144(143), Usman Khawaja 95*(152), Wahab Riaz 1/77.