Babar, Shafiq hit tons as Australia A toil
PERTH: Pakistan’s sublimely talented Babar Azam belied an infamously poor 50s to 100s conversion rate by gliding to a masterful century against Australia A in a high quality tour contest under lights at Perth Stadium.
In a fixture billed as a selection trial for six Australian batsmen duelling for two spots in the Test top six, a successful call at the toss allowed the tourists first use of a Perth surface that proved more docile than the pitch prepared for last year’s Test against India.
This combined with a pink Kookaburra ball that lost its hardness through the middle of the day to allow Azam and Asad Shafiq the chance to get themselves into Test match rhythm after a horrid Twenty20 series that should have finished 3-0 to Australia. Their unbeaten stand was worth 276 by the close, frustrating the aspiring Test batsmen opposed to them but also heartening the touring party.
Azam made a typically effervescent start after the Pakistanis had slipped to 3 for 60 before lunch, but in contrast to so many of his first-class and Test innings he knuckled down after the early flurry to turn an attractive cameo into a truly substantial score. Shafiq 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. Helping Pakistan was the fact that the Australia A attack operated in two distinct halves. Richardson and Neser worked away tidily in the fashion of seasoned red ball bowlers, whereas Riley Meredith – albeit with an early spell that reaped two wickets for his raw pace – Sean Abbott and Travis Head were notably expensive. The inability of the hosts to apply consistent scoreboard pressure across the day, in conditions where blasting the opposition out was proven to be an unsustainable approach, will provide food for the thinking of the Australian selectors Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer.Scores: Pakistanis 3 for 336 (Babar 157*, Shafiq 119*) v Australia A.