Sport Cricket Second Test: Rain threatens, but Australia well on top

Second Test: Rain threatens, but Australia well on top

David Warner and Mitchell Starc celebrate the wicket of Pakistan's Babar Azam Photo: AAP
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Third Test, day three, Adelaide Oval

First innings: Australia 3-589, Pakistan 302

Second innings: Pakistan 3-38, rain disrupted stumps 

Shaan 14, Shafiq 7

Australia has carved through the Pakistan top order after enforcing the follow-on in the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Stumps were called early after a heavy downpour that ended day three, with Pakistan on 3-38, still 239 behind Australia’s first-innings total.

Imam-ul-Haq was out for a duck when trapped lbw by Josh Hazlewood.

After the dinner break Steve Smith caught Azhar Ali from the bowling of Mitchell Starc for nine.

Babar Azam, who fell just short of a century in the first innings, was then caught behind off Hazlewood for eight.

Rain has delayed play several times and continues to threaten the match, with the Australian decision to follow on partly made with one eye on the weather forecast.

Earlier, the home team’s bowlers were frustrated by some stubborn resistance in the afternoon session from overnight batsmen Babar and Yasir Shah.

They both hit big innings, with Babar falling for 97 and Yasir compiling an entertaining 113.

Babar fell when wicketkeeper Tim Paine took another brilliant catch after edging a ball from Mitchell Starc.

The Aussie paceman then followed up next ball to trap Shaheen lbw for a duck.

Mohammed Abbas survived the hat-trick ball, but after cruising in the morning sessions Pakistan had slumped to 8-195 and Starc had six wickets.

With Yasir Shah digging in for a battling century, Pakistan edged ever closer to forcing Australia to bat again.

Abbas held on for 29 runs before falling to a vicious delivery from Pat Cummins that forced him to defend and pop the ball up to David Warner.

With Yasir holing out to Nathan Lyon in the deep off the bowling of Cummins, Pakistan was left 277 runs behind Australia’s first-innings total and Australia looked at the weather and decided to sent the tourists out again.

It was overcast but dry in Adelaide when Pakistan resumed at 6-96 chasing Australia’s massive score of 3-589.

Starc had gone on a rampage to snare 4-22 in the evening session, with Babar 43 and Yasir 4 the only batsmen left standing at stumps on day two.

The pair pushed on in the first hour, scoring runs and offering few chances, with spinner Nathan Lyon having little impact.

Part-timer Marnus Labuschagne was brought on and dropped a sharp caught-and-bowled chance from Yasir when he was on 43.

With wet weather forecast for the next two days, Australia will be hoping to regain the momentum in the evening session under lights.

Setting up the huge Australian total was opener Warner, who revealed he could retire from either red or white-ball cricket in the next 18 months in a bid to prolong his career in the other format.

Fresh off hitting the 10th highest score of all time on Saturday with an unbeaten 335, Warner did not show the signs of a 33-year-old heading into the backend of his career.

But he’s well aware he can’t keep at it forever.

Australia’s Test schedule will thin out slightly over the next few years, but it has a busy Twenty20 calendar leading into next year’s home World Cup.

Another T20 World Cup follows shortly after in India in 2021, with Warner suggesting it’s unlikely he will continue playing all formats after that.

And the left-hander, who made his name as a T20 batsman before turning into one of Australia’s best Test players, indicated it could be the white ball that goes first.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet but I think when you play Test cricket, it’s obviously less taxing on your legs unless you’re out there all day like that,” Warner said.

I haven’t really put any thought into what I’ll do first, whether it’s give away T20 internationals to free up some time for the Test matches.

“I think that’ll probably come around the corner after next year’s World Cup. I might have to think about it. There’s a World Cup six months after that as well.

“Something’s got to give. It’s also an opportunity for a youngster to come through. We’ve got great depth in Australian cricket.”

Warner was arguably the busiest of any Australian cricketer before the ball-tampering ban, and is still one of few players to regularly feature across all three formats.

There had been fears last year Warner would give up his Australian career to become a gun for hire on the T20 circuit.

David Warner marks another milestone on his way to 335no on day two. Photo: AAP

But he shut down any suggestion of that earlier this summer, pointing out that if that was ever a consideration it would have come following the ball-tampering scandal.

He does however believe the T20 game has helped his fitness for Test cricket.

The opener was still running quick singles and coming back for twos throughout his nine hours at the crease, which included 301 trips running up and down the pitch.

“T20 cricket is high intensity,” he said.

“I go back to the IPL. I was absolutely cooked come the seventh game. I’d spent more time out on the field, in the heat, running with Jonny Bairstow.

“It was really tough and taxing. That’s really where I am now. If I had those miles in my legs, it’s helping me right now.”

-with AAP 

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