Warner’s 144 leads Australia’s reply to Pakistan’s 443-9

Melbourne, Dec 28 (IANS) Opening batsman David Warner’s blistering 144 propelled Australia to 278-2 after Pakistan declared their first innings at 443-9 on the third day of the second cricket Test here on Wednesday.

Left-handed Warner smacked 17 fours and a six during his 143-ball stay that saw him register his 17th Test century on a batting-friendly pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

He shared a 198-run partnership with Usman Khawaja (95 not out) for the second wicket as the hosts replied strongly to Pakistan’s 443-9 declared, that was driven by opener Azhar Ali’s brilliant 205 not out.

The day was also historic for Ali, who resumed at 139 not out and went on to post the first double century by a Pakistan batsman in Australia.

He got good support from fast bowler Sohail Khan, who hammered a run-a-ball 65, featuring six fours and four sixes.

They forged a 118-run eighth wicket stand after Pakistan lost Mohammad Amir, who managed to add merely a run to his overnight score of 28. Amir hit left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc down the leg side to wicket-keeper Matthew Wade.

As 31-year-old Ali went about his business, Sohail picked out off-spinner Nathan Lyon for punishment, tonking him for three sixes.

He ran himself out, with Pakistan at 435-8 and paceman Josh Hazlewood removed No.11 batsman Wahab Riaz for one. And the visitors declared their innings at 443-9, with Ali remaining unbeaten on 205 from 364 deliveries out of which 20 were fours.

Ali’s knock was the second highest score by a visiting batsman at the MCG after West Indian legend Viv Richards’ 208 in 1984.

In reply, the hosts lost opener Matthew Renshaw for 10, bowled by a beauty from leg-spinner Yasir Shah, but Warner and Khawaja then played with panache.

Shah was particularly loose, and conceded six an over, while Riaz’s left-arm pace was also crunched around the famous old ground as Australia reached tea on 131-1, with Warner making 77 off 78 balls.

Wahab thought he had Warner soon after the break but was adjudged no ball — the middle of a hat-trick of no balls as the quick bowler was plagued by problems placing his front foot.

Instead, Warner brought up his 17th Test century and first at the MCG when he sent the 113th delivery he had faced away for four.

Warner accelerated to 144 from 143 balls before he was given out on review, with replays showing a mark on his glove as he swung at a Wahab delivery.

Khawaja and captain Steven Smith (10 not out) reached stumps unscathed and will resume on day four with Australia 165 runs adrift.

Brief scores: Pakistan 443/9 declared (Azhar Ali 205, Sohail Khan 65; Josh Hazlewood 3-50, Jackson Bird 3-113); Australia 278-2 (David Warner 144, Usman Khawaja batting 95; Wahab Riaz 1-77) on third day.

–IANS

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