Sports Cricket 30 Dec 2016 Australian captian S ...

Australian captian Smith shines on rain-hit day

REUTERS | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Dec 30, 2016, 1:50 am IST
Updated Dec 30, 2016, 6:19 am IST
Steve Smith (Photo: AFP)
 Steve Smith (Photo: AFP)

Melbourne: Captain Steve Smith raised a composed century to push Australia to a 22-run first innings lead against Pakistan on Thursday’s fourth day shortly before a storm all but washed away the home side’s hopes of victory in the second Test.

A downpour prompted an early tea two balls after Smith had completed his 17th Test hundred and play was later abandoned as rain pelted down at a Melbourne Cricket Ground that had been bathed in sunshine for most of the day.

Australia had moved to 465 for six in reply to the tourists’ 443-9 declared, with Smith unbeaten on 100 and Mitchell Starc on seven not out at the other end.
Although Friday’s final day is expected to be clear, the weather has left Australia little time to build an imposing enough total to pressure Pakistan’s batsmen and force a result to wrap up the three-match series 2-0.

“Obviously the rain hasn’t helped us,” Smith told reporters. “So now it’s just about summing it up in the morning and seeing where we can go. It’s obviously going to be difficult to get a result.

“The wicket hasn’t broken up much and it’s playing pretty well.” Australia lost two wickets in the morning and when they resumed after lunch on 395-4, Smith pulled a short ball from Sohail Khan for four on the first delivery of the session to notch his 1,000th run for the year.

Number six batsman Nic Maddinson fell for 22, bowled when he opted for an ill-advised jaunt down the pitch to take on leg-spinner Yasir Shah. Rookie Maddinson was already under pressure after a run of failures in his first two Tests and the unconvincing 55-ball innings may not be enough to keep him in the side for the third and final match in Sydney.

With the game slipping away from Pakistan when Australia reached 447-5, wicketkeeper Wade slogged Yasir into Azhar Ali’s helmet and he slumped to the ground in pain. After being allowed a few minutes to recover, he gingerly walked off the ground assisted by medical staff.

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