As it happened: v Pakistan, Day Three
David Warner rode his luck to slay his MCG demons with a century, spearheading a bold counter attack by that has left the door ajar for a push at an unlikely victory.
The batting crisis of a month ago seems a world away now after ‘s senior batsmen returned fire at Pakistan, making serious inroads into their imposing first innings total.
The first half of the day belonged to Pakistan, whose defiance with the bat exacted further toll on ‘s quicks, but it’s the home side who head into the fourth day with a more realistic hope of winning.
Both teams, however, will also have to beat the elements with more rain forecast on Thursday in a game already severely interrupted by wet weather.
finished the third day on 2/278, trailing Pakistan by 165, with Usman Khawaja needing a further five runs to join Warner in triple figures. If weather permits the hosts will be ahead as early as lunch if they can maintain their strong scoring rate.
“We’re in a good position now. Our aim is to take the scoreboard out of the equation and just bat,” Warner said.
While would love to wrap the series up in Melbourne, they will be wary of asking too much of their attack late in this game with only three days’ break heading into the third Test in Sydney.
Talk of an n win seemed unlikely when Azhar Ali became only the fourth overseas player to score a double century at the MCG, however, Warner has not only dug his team out of trouble but put the visitors on the back foot.
The opener had been curiously short of runs at Test level this year, despite strong form in the one-day international arena, but said pre-game the tide would change. Those words proved prophetic when he completed his 17th Test century and first at this famous ground.
“It was my bogey venue but I got it off the back,” Warner said.
“It’s a lot of weight off the shoulders. You put so much emotion into thinking why I’m not scoring them in Test matches but scoring them in the one-dayers.”
Warner played with his customary aggression, his 144 coming at better than a run a ball on a pitch Pakistan’s top seven, including Azhar, scored at a pedestrian rate. His century, brought off a French cut, came in just the 39th over of the innings.
His other major slice of luck came through a no-ball from Wahab Riaz when on 81. It proved a costly error.
Wahab was extremely disappointing, losing the plot with five no balls in two consecutive overs, including one where he overstepped by a foot. His follow through into the danger zone on the pitch was also concerning the umpires.
Pakistan’s absent-mindedness was on show as early as the fifth over when they burned a referral on Warner for a caught behind despite the batsman missing the ball by a considerable margin. That a fielder at third slip, Azhar, and backward point, Yasir Shah, instigated the challenge only added to the embarrassment.
Yasir did not seem to be on the same page with his captain either when he had the ball. While he bowled a more attacking line outside of off stump to the left-handers, Misbah-ul-Haq had set a four-five field, leaving plenty of holes on the off side for Warner and Khawaja to pick. Accordingly, Yasir conceded more than six runs an over.
“If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result,” an exasperated Michael Clarke said on Channel Nine.
“Misbah needs to see this [wagon wheel]. Somebody in the support staff for Pakistan needs to tell him this, if he doesn’t know already.
“It makes it hard to attack from the other end because you can’t build dot balls, you can’t build any pressure.”
Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers but his toil went unrewarded.