David Warner has finally broken his MCG Test century hoodoo by hitting a blistering 144 on day three of the Boxing Day Test.
Warner had previously managed a top score of just 62 (against Sri Lanka in 2012) in 10 Test innings at the MCG, but his lean run in Melbourne ended on Wednesday – albeit after a lucky let-off, a close scare on 99 and a strange DRS decision going in his favour.
The attacking opening batsman was bowled by Wahab Riaz on 81, but the fast bowler was frustratingly called for a no-ball.
Then, on 99, Warner almost played the ball onto his own stumps. Instead Mohammad Amir’s sharp delivery was nicked to third man for four to bring up the century.
— AmMaD (@AmmadZahid) December 28, 2016
Earlier, while Warner was on two, Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq was talked into what is being dubbed the “worst DRS review of all time” by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and bowler Amir.
Amir and Sarfraz thought they had Warner caught behind, but the Decision Review System video showed his bat missed the ball by an incredibly large distance.
Australia went to the crease after Pakistan declared on 9-443 after lunch. Australia ended the day on 2-278 with Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 95 and Steve Smith on 10.
Speaking at stumps, Warner admitted his MCG hoodoo had been bugging him.
“It was sort of my bogey venue. Taking momentum from the one-day hundred I scored here. My first one, it was sort of a weight off my shoulders,” Warner told ABC Grandstand.
“At the end of the day it’s a fickle game, you’ve got to try as hard as you can in all three formats, and keep working at it in the nets and backing yourself.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s a big occasion. You sort of work yourself up a bit thinking you’re one hundred away from getting a Boxing Day hundred. As a kid that’s what you dream about.”
Pakistan miss history
Pakistan’s declaration denied opener Azhar Ali a famous MCG Test batting record.
A few balls before the declaration, Azhar brought up his third Test double century and was unbeaten on 205.
He was also only three runs short of West Indian legend Sir Viv Richards, who blazed his way to the ground’s highest Test score by an international player of 208 in 1984.
After two days of hard graft for Pakistan’s batsmen, it was a run feast on Wednesday.
Day three featured 413 runs – the first time in more than a century that a day’s play in an MCG Test has seen more than 400 scored.
After two more rain delays in the morning session, the sun came out in the afternoon and the Australian top order relished the conditions.
Pakistan resumed at 6-310 and Azhar and Sohail Khan picked up the pace, posting a record eighth-wicket partnership of 118 in Tests between the two countries. Australia then consistently scored at well above four an over.
Wahab, who bowled 10 no balls, eventually claimed Warner’s wicket – and with a DRS review. The review showed the faintest flick of Warner’s glove as he tried a pull shot.
It was Warner’s first Test century since his unbeaten 122 against the West Indies at the SCG in January, having gone 17 innings since without reaching triple figures.
The freewheeling knock took Warner past 5000 career Test runs in his 109th innings. He is the sixth-fastest Australian to reach the milestone behind Don Bradman, Matthew Hayden, Neil Harvey, Greg Chappell and Mike Hussey.
Azhar posted the highest Test score by a Pakistan batsman in Australia, and also his highest Test score against Australia.
Pakistan declared immediately after Josh Hazlewood dismissed Wahab and it is unclear if they knew how close Azhar was to Richards’ record. That was Hazlewood’s 100th Test wicket and he was the pick of the attack with 3-50 from 32.3 overs, while Jackson Bird took 3-113.
Sohail’s blistering knock of 65 featured four sixes from the bowling of off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who went for 1-115 from 23 overs and is sure to come under intense pressure to retain selection for the third Test in Sydney.
– with AAP