Babar Azam has reinforced his standing as Pakistan’s talisman, scoring a commanding unbeaten century in the pink-ball tour match against Australia A in Perth.
Test stalwart Asad Shafiq also reached triple figures before Pakistan went to stumps at 3-336 on day one of the three-day clash.
A strong Australia A pace attack led by Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson toiled as Babar (157no) and Shafiq (119no) piled on a colossal 276-run partnership.
The hosts weren’t helped by a pink Kookaburra ball which quickly lost its hardness and didn’t offer much even under lights on a tame Optus Stadium pitch.
Babar had a lucky escape when he glanced his second ball faced down the leg side and a diving Alex Carey was only able to get a fingertip to it.
An absolute masterclass 🤩
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 11, 2019
From there, it was a chanceless and masterful knock highlighted by the frequent use of a beautifully-timed straight drive.
Pakistan’s T20 skipper reached his century off just 126 balls and had plundered 24 boundaries by the time he walked off the ground.
“He’s an exceptionally good player,” Australia Test hopeful Travis Head said.
“He’s obviously translated that (white-ball) form nicely today.
“We’ll think of some plans over the next couple of days and the next couple of weeks, I guess, for the guys playing the first Test against him.”
Having stamped himself as one of the world’s best white-ball batsmen, Babar will be looking to carry his sparkling form into the Test arena.
Babar top-scored with 99 when Australia and Pakistan squared off last October in Abu Dhabi, where the hosts won by 373 runs to claim the series.
The right-hander has averaged 53 from his past 11 Test innings including that knock.
Test prospect Riley Meredith snared two early wickets after Pakistan captain Azhar Ali won the toss and elected to bat.
Tasmanian speedster Meredith delivered the highlight of Monday’s opening session, coming around the wicket to left-hander Shan Masood and sending down a vicious bouncer which the opener fended to Abbott at point.
The day-night match is doubling as a national selection shootout ahead of the first Test at the Gabba starting on November 21, with Head, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns and Will Pucovski all lining up for Australia A.
Head appears likely to edge out talented youngster Pucovski and fill the middle-order vacancy in Australia’s Test side.
Coach Justin Langer and chief selector Trevor Hohns will sit down on Wednesday to pick their squad for the Gabba, with Harris, Khawaja and Burns competing to open the batting alongside David Warner.