Smith helps Australia to slender lead

Melbourne, Dec 29 (IANS) Skipper Steven Smith led the way with a century as Australia built up a slender lead on the rain-hit fourth day of the second cricket Test against Pakistan here on Thursday.

Smith was unbeaten on 100 at the close of the day’s play with Australia on 465/6 in their first innings. Mitchell Starc was giving his captain company at the other end.

This was the 17th Test century for Smith. Shortly after Smith had reached his century, play had to be abandoned due to rain.

The hosts now lead Pakistan by 22 runs. Pakistan had declared their first innings at 443/9.

Smith, who was the overnight batsman along with Usman Khawaja, was involved in several crucial partnerships. He built up a 92-run stand with Peter Handscomb before adding 59 runs with Nic Maddinson.

Among the Pakistan bowlers, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah and Sohail Khan bagged a couple of wickets each.

Starting at the overnight score of 278/2, the hosts suffered their first jolt in the fifth over of the day when Khawaja was caught behind off Riaz’s bowling.

Khawaja, who started the day on 95, missed out on his century by a whisker.

The left-hander scored only two runs off the 12 balls he faced on Thursday morning before poor footwork while attempting a drive saw the ball nick the outer edge on its way to Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Khawaja’s 165-ball innings included 13 hits to the fence.

Handscomb was also in good form, scoring 54 runs off 90 balls before falling to Sohail Khan.

Brief scores:

Australia (First Innings): 465/6 (David Warner 144, Steven Smith 100 batting, Usman Khawaja 97) vs Pakistan (First Innings): 443/9 declared.

–IANS

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