AUS v PAK, 2nd Test, Day 2 Review: Persistant rain forces early stumps
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Azhar Ali continued to be the pillar of the Pakistan batting order and Australia’s main source of frustration as the right-hander scored an undefeated 139 to help Pakistan finish at 310 for 6 at the stumps on the rain-marred Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The home side was made to work hard on for the first half of the day before Jackson Bird and Josh Hazlewood brought some relief in the last session with two quick wickets.
Resuming day 2 from a score of 142/4, Ali along with his overnight partner Asad Shafiq put up 115 for the 5th wicket on the featherbed which gave very little assistance to the bowlers. Rains, however, continued to make its presence felt and the umpires were forced to stop on more than a couple of occasions.
The umpires started off the day’s proceedings early to marginally compensate the 39 overs which got lost due to the downpour on Day one. But, after a smooth opening session which Pakistan dominated, rains showed up briefly and caused a small 15 minutes break before causing a long interruption after Lunch session. The entire post-lunch session was gobbled up due to bad weather.
The Pakistanis looked batting in their zone completely. After starting with the pace of Hazelwood and Starc, Smith quickly turned to the off-spin of Nathan Lyon. But, there was the only anticipation on offer as the Aussies struggled to break the growing stand. Later, Steven Smith opted to roll his arm and also got the Nic Maddinson to bowl his part-time left-arm spinner from the other end.
Pakistan’s Azhar Ali had his heart in his mouth when he was batting on 93 when in the 69th over of the match, the third umpire pressed the wrong button to flash OUT on the big screen after the on-field referring a run–out at the non-striker’s end.
On the last ball before the drinks break, Shafiq drove a Jackson Bird delivery straight down the ground. The bowler got down in time and managed to get a fingertip on the ball and diverted the ball to the stumps at the non-striker’s end. The replays suggested that Ali, who was backing up, was well inside the crease when the ball dislodged the bails in the non-striker’s end.
Umpire S.Ravi went upstairs to confirm the decision but the third umpire Richard Illingworth gave the Pakistan dressing room a scare when the giant screen flashed OUT. The 30, 000 strong attendance went up cheering before but the joy was short-lived as the cheers soon turned in to boos after the decision was overturned.
Ali had to wait to complete his century after the giant screen goof up due to the fifteen-minute rain interruption. Soon, after returning, Ali, batting on 96, got the all-important runs and reached his 12th Test ton. The dark cloud hovering around the venue made their presence felt yet again as it began to drizzle heavily shortly after Ali’s century forcing a long break this time.
The rain disruption, however, proved to be a boon for Australia as they snapped two important breakthroughs. With the new ball at disposal, Bird and Hazelwood cashed in on the opportunity with the wickets of Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed’s wicket respective to bring some relief. But, before the Aussies could make any bigger inroad, Mohammad Amir (28) brought some stability and supported Ali till rains caused another disruption, this time forcing the day to be called off.
Pakistan: 310/6 (Azhar Ali 139*; Jackson Bird 3/31)
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