Australia remains in a dominant position in the second Test against Pakistan in Adelaide, but has endured a frustrating third day punctuated by stubborn batting from the tourists and inopportune rain.
- Having been bowled out for 302 and made to follow on, Pakistan closes play 3-39 and still 248 runs behind
- Yasir Shah scored his first Test century — his previous best score was 42 — and Azhar Ali made 97
- Mitchell Starc (6-66, 1-10) was the pick of the Aussies on an otherwise sloppy day that included several missed chances
A century to Pakistan leg spinner and number-eight batsman Yasir Shah and another fine innings from Babar Azam kept Australia in the field for much longer than it would have expected, but poor bowling and fielding contributed to the hosts downfall through the day.
Pakistan was eventually dismissed for 302 when Yasir’s innings ended on 113, and Australia promptly enforced the follow on, picking up three wickets under the lights before rain brought play to an end early.
Having enforced the follow on, Tim Paine took his players aside and appeared to read the riot act, demanding a more disciplined approach from his side, and they delivered.
Pakistan suffered twin blows at the most inopportune times, losing Imam-ul-Haq with the last ball of the three overs before the dinner break for 0, then Azhar Ali for 9 as the rain began to fall in the night session.
When the previously imperious Babar edged Cummins to Paine for 8 to leave Pakistan 3-20, Pakistan’s hopes of making Australia bat again appeared slim.
The situation could have become worse for Pakistan if not for the regular interruptions for rain, before one last downfall finally ended the day’s play with Pakistan 3-39, still 248 runs behind.
Upon arrival at the ground on Sunday morning, Australia would have expected a swift conclusion to Pakistan’s innings and a decision over whether or not to enforce the follow on.
But the day could hardly have panned out more differently, partially due to Pakistan’s impressive defiance and Australia’s surprising sloppiness.
The tempo was low from the beginning of the day, with the Australian quicks failing to get anything happening and the overnight pair of Babar and Yasir scoring with a concerning ease.
The run rate was high and the Australian energy low, and by the time Australia turned to an all-spin attack of Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne, the partnership had blossomed.
Which is not to say Australia did not have its opportunities. In fact, it wasted more high quality chances than any Test team should, and was made to pay full price.
Tim Paine missed a simple stumping when Yasir skipped down the pitch and clean missed one from the luckless Lyon, and Labuschagne inexplicably dropped the same batsman off his own bowling soon after.
Unfortunately for Babar, it wasn’t just the Australians who let opportunity slip. On 97, Pakistan’s star batsman was absolutely cruising towards a second consecutive century in this series before a rush of blood proved his undoing.
He flashed at a wide delivery from Mitchell Starc, edging to the right of Paine, who took a sharp catch. Babar deserved a century, and his deflated response was only to be expected.
The wicket opened the door for a rare spell of joy for Australia and Starc, who then removed Shaheen Shah with a spearing delivery in at the pads, trapping the tailender dead in front first ball.
Starc was inches away from completing a Test hat-trick when Mohammad Abbas skewed one off the leading edge that was seemingly destined for his middle stump, but it was to prove the last ray of light for Australia for some time.
Yasir and Abbas conspired to put on 87 runs for ninth wicket while steering the former to his first every Test ton — before last week’s Gabba Test, Yasir had never scored more than 38 in a Test innings.
The only time the leg spinner looked nervous was on 99, when a series of dot balls seemed to finally pile the pressure on the to that point care free Yasir.
His heart was in his mouth when he eventually flayed at a full Hazlewood delivery, sending it lobbing towards Pat Cummins at mid on, but fortune was on his side. The ball fell just out of Cummins’ reach, and Yasir had one of the most unlikely Test centuries.
Abbas would eventually fall to a Cummins short ball, caught in the gully by Warner for a career-high 29, but Yasir wasn’t done scoring runs or frustrating the bowlers. Labuschagne dropped another sitter, this time at short leg, and Yasir mixed some blistering strokes with streaky edges that inevitably fell safely.
Even debutant Musa Khan got in on the fun, playing a series of streaky shots on his way to 12 not out, before Yasir’s incredible knock finally came to an end. Another Cummins short ball was pulled away too, ironically, Lyon in the deep, who completed a good catch.
It gave Australia the opportunity to strike during the night session, but the rain largely came to the tourists’ rescue.
See how the action unfolded in our live blog.