As it happened: v Pakistan, Day Two
Nic Maddinson says he is feeling as confident as ever as he prepares to play the innings that is set to decide his future in the baggy green – and it could come as early as Wednesday.
The draw is the favoured outcome after another rain-interrupted day in the second Test but any slip up by ‘s new-look batting line-up will leave the home team under enormous pressure.
have little margin for error after opener Azhar Ali’s 12th Test century pushed Pakistan beyond the 300-plus first innings total coach Mickey Arthur believed would put them in the game.
Steve Smith’s men began the day hunting for quick wickets but hours later it was the home team making the first move off the field when the rain returned. Pakistan finished the second day on 6/310 with Azhar unbeaten on 139 but Melbourne’s fickle weather is threatening to ruin the Test.
Even with provisions to make up eight overs per day, there will be at least 54 overs lost this Test – the equivalent to close to two sessions of play – with more rain to come in the final three days of the game.
A draw would suit , who are 1-0 up, but Pakistan will find the prospect of a spin-friendly SCG more to their liking should they need a series-levelling victory. A drawn series would be enough for them to retain the nameless trophy after winning in the Middle East in 2014.
Scoring has proven difficult on the MCG’s drop-in pitch and while wickets have been hard to come by, batting second is an unfamiliar scenario for a team that underwent massive change last month.
Most pressure will be on the left-handed Maddinson, who is fighting for his place in the XI after scores of zero, one and four in his first two Tests.
Maddinson avoided the axe in Melbourne after selectors opted against blooding all-rounder Hilton Cartwright. The uncapped West n will be a strong chance to make his debut in Sydney next week due to the short turnaround between matches and the need to provide support to the quicks.
A big score in Melbourne would be timely for Maddinson, who has passed 50 only once in his past eight first-class innings. He learned of his Boxing Day reprieve on Christmas Eve.
“I know I’ve missed out in a couple of games but I’m not too stressed about it. I feel confident in my batting at the moment – the most confident I’ve ever felt over five or six years of playing cricket,” Maddinson said on the ABC.
“I understand that’s the way the game works, you’re not going to score runs every time you go out to bat, but you have to give yourself the best opportunity. I think my game at the moment is probably heading in the right direction, and I’m happy with it.”
One player who knows his game is in good order is Azhar, who has proven a tough nut to crack for . He’s not the most fashionable batsman but runs naturally come for a player who can occupy the crease for long periods.
His hard-fought century has resulted in him fulfilling his dream of having his name etched on the MCG honour boards.
“They’ve actually blunted that attack quite well. It looks like that’s the focus with them to get through the really good spells,” ‘s bowling coach David Saker said on Tuesday night.
“They batted extremely well, Azhar Ali was extremely good today.”
It was another day of toil for batsmen and bowlers, though the honours were clearly with Pakistan, who added 168 runs for the loss of two wickets in nearly 51 overs.
The rain came at a good time for , who conceded 40 runs in the last 5.2 overs after Mohammad Amir threw caution to the wind with his extravagant strokeplay.