Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Warner’s whirlwind ton leads Aussie fightback

MELBOURNE: Azhar Ali carved out an unbeaten double-century to set Pakistan up for a first innings declaration at 443-9 but a belligerent David Warner had Australia charging out of the blocks in response on day three of the second test on Wednesday. Opener Warner fired a rapid 144 before Wahab Riaz finally got him, as Australia raced to 244-2 with Usman Khawaja nearing his own century in brilliant sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah bowled opener Matt Renshaw for 10 but was hammered for 47 runs in a costly seven-over spell as Khawaja and Warner hit out in an unbroken 85-run stand. Pakistan seamer Mohammad Amir asked some tough questions early in the innings but was also responsible for one of the more absurd reviews seen in the seven years since the introduction of the Decision Review System. Warner played and clearly missed the ball from Amir but the paceman cajoled captain Misbah-ul-Haq into reviewing for a caught and behind decision. The TV footage showed over half a foot of daylight between bat and ball. Renshaw tossed away his wicket for 10, bowled by Yasir when attempting to slog-sweep the leg-spinner.

Khawaja nearly played onto his stumps when on nine off Riaz but the edge raced harmlessly to deep fine leg for four. Warner flicked a full toss off Yasir square for two to bring up a quickfire 50 and an off-drive for three on the next ball gave him 5,000 test runs. Azhar earlier completed a sparkling double-century, only the fourth touring batsman to score one at the MCG, and strutted off the ground unbeaten on 205. He tucked two runs off paceman Mitchell Starc to bring up the milestone and gave a running jump for joy before ripping off his helmet. Spectators gave him a standing ovation and batting partner Wahab Riaz jogged over to embrace him. Wahab’s dismissal for one triggered Pakistan’s declaration after adding 133 runs to their overnight 310 for six. Rain delayed the start of play and forced a short hiatus after the first drinks break but it did little to slow Pakistan’s momentum as tail-ender Sohail Khan hammered spinner Nathan Lyon for four sixes in an aggressive innings of 65.

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