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  Sports   Cricket  27 Dec 2016  Azhar Ali's unbeaten 139 lift Pakistan to 310-6

Azhar Ali's unbeaten 139 lift Pakistan to 310-6

AP
Published : Dec 27, 2016, 4:43 pm IST
Updated : Dec 27, 2016, 4:43 pm IST

Azhar, 31, held the Pakistan innings together and batted brilliantly without offering any chances off 287 balls.

Azhar Ali mixed caution with aggression and studded his 12th test century with 12 exquisitely driven boundaries. (Photo: AP)
 Azhar Ali mixed caution with aggression and studded his 12th test century with 12 exquisitely driven boundaries. (Photo: AP)

Melbourne: A brilliant century by opener Azhar Ali took Pakistan to 310-6 on the second day of the rain-hit second test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

Azhar, unbeaten on 139 and Mohammad Amir, 28 not out, were together in an unfinished 42-run stand for the seventh wicket when rain forced players off for the day. A total of 78 overs have been lost over two days due to inclement weather.

The innings was set up by a fighting 115-run fifth wicket stand between Azhar and Asad Shafiq (50) after the tourists were precariously placed on 125-4 after winning the toss.

Azhar, 31, held the Pakistan innings together and batted brilliantly without offering any chances off 287 balls. He mixed caution with aggression and studded his 12th test century with 12 exquisitely driven boundaries.

The 56-test veteran became only the seventh Pakistani batsman to score a test ton at the world's oldest test venue, and he knelt and kissed the playing surface in a solemn celebration of a milestone he so richly deserved. It was Azhar's third hundred in six test appearances against Australia including 109 and 100 not out in Abu Dhabi in October 2014. He has a tally of 646 runs (average 71.78) against Australia over this period.

Azhar, who also scored 71 in Pakistan's 39-run loss in the first match of this three-test series in Brisbane last week, has also become the fifth man to reach 1,000 test runs for the calendar year during his Melbourne century. He went to stumps on Tuesday with 1,085 runs in 2016, at an average of 60.27.

"Azhar Ali batted extremely well (today)," said Australian bowling coach David Saker. "They've blunted that attack quite well. (It) looks like that's a bit of a focus from them to get through the really good spells.

"Sometimes the rain can be a blessing but today because it was constant rain ... that's when it can be quite difficult. The ball gets wet, the footholds become a little bit slippery, the bowlers pick up grass on the bottom of their shoes so they slip a bit and when the ball gets wet it becomes quite easy for the batters. And they made the most of it, they scored quite quickly."

Asad, who scored 137 in the second innings in Brisbane, continued that form here, hitting four boundaries off 146 balls in three hours before the second new ball ended his 123-ball innings after three hours.

Following a four-hour rain delay, Australia took the second new ball and struck immediately through Jackson Bird (3-91) and Josh Hazelwood (2-33).

Asad, who survived two lbw appeals off successive Hazelwood deliveries, edged Bird to second slip Steve Smith.

Sarfraz Ahmed (10) lasted half an hour and edged the economical Hazelwood to Matt Renshaw at first slip.

That's all the Australian could manage as Azhar and Amir counterattacked in their seventh wicket stand, with Amir hitting six fours off 23 balls to further frustrate the Australians. Amir lived dangerously as he edged, or played and missed, against the Australian pace trio.

Saker believes the best batting conditions are yet to come and could put Australia in a good position to force a result.

"Knowing the MCG quite well, it's usually good to bat day three and four here so we're still well and truly in the game," he said.

Tags: australia vs pakistan, melbourne test, azhar ali