Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq crack tons as Australia A toil
KARACHI: Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq shone with the bat under lights at Perth Stadium on Monday as Pakistan closed the first day of their three-day tour match against Australia A on a strong note.
The tourists made the right call to bat first on a surface that proved docile as the day progressed.
This combined with a pink Kookaburra ball that lost its hardness through the middle of the day to allow Babar and Asad the chance to get themselves into Test match rhythm after a horrid Twenty20 series. At the close, Babar was unbeaten on 157 and Asad on 119. Their stand was worth 276 runs.
Babar made a typically effervescent start after the Pakistanis had slipped to 60 for three before lunch, but gradually knuckled down to turn his innings into a truly substantial score. Asad proved the ideal partner, as the pair pushed through into the evening, floodlit session and successfully negotiated the second new ball despite some nifty late swing from Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser.
Shan Masood was dropped in the slips by Marcus Harris off Neser in the day’s third over, though the Queenslander did not have long to wait for a victim as the touring captain Azhar Ali shuffled across and was deemed lbw to a delivery that may have gone on to hit the leg stump.
Meredith’s entry into the match, having seen his cause aggressively pursued by Shane Warne among others, brought plenty of speed but not much control. The wild variety was enough to bewitch Haris Sohail into vague prod wide of the off stump for an edge through to the Australia A captain Alex Carey. Then, there was undoubted venom to the bouncer that trapped Shan on glove or bat handle from around the wicket for a gently lobbed catch to Abbott running in from point.
But Azam and Shafiq were more difficult to intimidate, cuffing no fewer than 37 boundaries between them in a partnership that endured all the way through to lunch, then tea, then stumps. Twenty-four of them raced from Babar’s blade, in a demonstration of class.
As for Asad, this was an innings to remind of his heroics at the Gabba four years ago – an encore now looks plausible. — with inputs from agencies