Pakistan fight back with Azhar’s gritty ton vs Australia

Melbourne, Dec 27 (IANS) Pakistan rode on a magnificent unbeaten century from opener Azhar Ali (139 not out) to end the second day at 310/6 against Australia as incessant rain continued to disrupt the proceedings of the Boxing Day second cricket Test here on Tuesday.

Pacer Mohammed Amir (28 not out) was at the crease with Azhar after rain forced an early close of play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here.

Resuming the day at 142/4, Pakistan began the second morning positively with the overnight duo of Azhar and Asad Shafiq (50) ensuring that the team did not lose early wickets.

With Azhar on 96, the first rain break came along, causing a brief intermission of 15 minutes. Yet, there was no lapse of concentration as the opener completed his century in the second over after resumption.

After reaching his 12th Test century, Azhar carried on with Shafiq, who by then had reached his half century as the duo continued to frustrate the home side with a gritty 115-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Australia skipper Steve Smith’s desperate attempts at getting the crucial breakthrough didn’t yield any results and with the rain playing hide and seek, Smith was also hesitant to take the second new ball in the morning session.

With 10 minutes still left in the session, the umpire decided to force early lunch after a brief discussion with Smith, the reason for which remained unclear.

The next two hours were completely washed out as both the teams waited in vain for the persistent rain to subside completely.

With the second session completely wasted, Australia immediately opted for the new ball and struck twice.

Soon after completing his half century off 123 deliveries, Shafiq was dismissed by pacer Jackson Bird, who took his tally to three wickets.

Pacer Josh Hazlewood then added to Pakistan’s woes by inducing an outside edge off wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed’s (10) bat to be caught by Matt Renshaw at first slip.

Struggling at 268/6, seamer Mohammed Amir joined Azhar and the duo complimented each other well to take the team to 310/6 until the downpour forced an early close to the day.

Azhar’s 287-ball knock was laced with 12 boundaries while Amir’s 23-ball cameo included six hits to the fence.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 310/6 (Azhar Ali 139 not out, Asad Shafiq 50, Mohammed Amir 28 not out, Jackson Bird 3/91, Josh Hazlewood 2/33) vs Australia.

–IANS

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