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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Angus Fontaine and Geoff Lemon

Australia v Pakistan: Boxing Day Test, day three – as it happened

Mitchell Marsh leads Australia’s fightback on day three.
Mitchell Marsh leads Australia’s fightback on day three. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP

STUMPS Day 3: Australia 187 for 6 and leading by 241 runs.

A quirky end to a curious day’s cricket. First we had Pat Cummins wrap up the Pakistan innings with a typically sublime five-wicket haul. Then Pakistan hit back, obliterating Australia’s top four batters to have them on their knees at 16-4. It could have been worse for thr home side if Abdullah Shafique hadn’t dropped Mitchell Marsh at 47-4. Instead he spilled a regulation catch and the big allrounder, with Steve Smith, rattled off another 150 runs before snicking off four runs short of his century. Smith fell in the final over of the day to end a fierce and fantastic day’s cricket.

If Pakistan wrap up Australia’s tail for not many in the morning and keep the chase under 300 we may yet have a thrilling Test finish on our hands. But if the tail wags and the chase extends toward 400, Pakistan are at risk of folding like a cheap suit as they did in Perth. Either way, the fight is on and two proud cricket nations will duke it out afresh on the morrow.

Stand by for a match report, thanks for your company. See you on Day 4!


WICKET! Smith c Salman b Shaheen 50 (Australia 187-6)

A meek end to a marathon innings by Smith! Shaheen dug it in short and Smith fended it straight to Salman at short gully. Smith hadn’t scored in 23 balls and he looked ill at ease all day. A weird innings by him but a useful one for Australia and a good wicket for Pakistan to finish Day 3 on.


62nd over: Australia 187-5 (Smith 50, Carey 16) Carey is crouching low to Salman to snuff the spin and the tactic yields a beautiful boundary on the fourth ball as he steps out and smacks it past the bowler and along the ground all the way to the boundary. Lovely stuff!

61st over: Australia 183-5 (Smith 50, Carey 16) Carey is averaging 17 in his last nine innings but he’s looking good here. Smith isn’t exactly ticking the run-rate over in support – he hasn’t scored a single run in seven overs – but as the new man at the crease, Carey is slowly extending the lead to 250.

60th over: Australia 182-5 (Smith 50, Carey 11) Carey CRACKS Salman down the ground for FOUR to wake the crowd up and move into double figures. He then steals a single to make it a whopping five from the over.

59th over: Australia 176-5 (Smith 50, Carey 5) Australia’s lead is up to 230 but the river of runs Mitch Marsh had going has slowed to a turgid trickle since the big fella departed for 96 nine overs back. Instead we have a staring contest between Smith and Shaheen and precious few runs.


58th over: Australia 176-5 (Smith 50, Carey 5) The catcher turns bowler. Agha Salman, the master slipper, who has put his teammates to shame with his superb catching behind the wicket, has been given a trundle in the shadows of stumps. Smith sniffs at each delivery like a dog inspecting lamp posts but doesn’t deign to put his mark on any of them.

57th over: Australia 176-5 (Smith 50, Carey 5) Shaheen Shah Afridi, the rangy right-handed quick from Landi Kotal, is back for a late blast. He has Carey in his sights but the lefty from Glenelg is forward looking for runs. He can’t find any this 0ver though. Unlike Smith, he’s striking the ball cleanly. But like Smith, he’s not scoring.


56th over: Australia 176-5 (Smith 50, Carey 5) Carey might be under pressure but it’s not showing as he drives Hamza for a rapidly-run three. Hamza, the pick of the Pakistan bowlers today with 3-27 from 16 overs, gets Smith hopping on his fourth ball but he recovers to play another stalemate.

55th over: Australia 173-5 (Smith 50, Carey 2) Shaheen is into his 15th over but he’s hasn’t been able to match the 1-2 knockout combination he delivered this morning to dismiss David Warner and Usman Khawaja. Another maiden.

54th over: Australia 173-5 (Smith 50, Carey 2) Smith has stalled on 49. Hamza is bowling tight lines but a man averaging 58 should be scoring more freely. He picks up my Clue Phone and clips one of his left pocket for a single. That’s Smith’s 40th Test fifty and his ninth against Pakistan. It came from 153 balls at a strike rate of 32.7. Carey joins in the celebrations by darting one down to third man to get off the mark.

53rd over: Australia 170-5 (Smith 49, Carey 0) Carey has the strike to Aamer and he’s desperate to get off his duck and start building an innings. After 26 Tests the 32-year-old former Aussie Rules prodigy has a Test average of 31, a strike rate of 57 and just the one century, sub-par numbers given his gifts for strokeplay. There’s a nervous moment on the final ball as one rears at him off a length but there’s no edge and despite half-an-appeal there’s no review either. A second straight maiden ensues.

52nd over: Australia 170-5 (Smith 49, Carey 0) Smith can give the crowd something to cheer if he reaches his fifty this over. His slowest half-century of the 39 he’s struck from 103 Tests has been from 154 deliveries so he needs a single in the next four balls to beat it. But he’s in no rush, playiong out a maiden from Hamza.

51st over: Australia 170-5 (Smith 49, Carey 0) With the gas zapped from the crowd at that dismissal of Mitch Marsh for 96, Alex Carey walks out for what needs to be a significant innings. Although his wicketkeeping has been sublime, his batsmanship has fallen away badly in the last two seasons. He fends five Aamer deliveries away as he gets his eye in.

WICKET! Marsh c Salman b Hamza 96 (Australia 169-5)

Nooooo! Marsh had moved within one shot of a fourth Test ton but instead he’s edged an uppish ball to Salman at first slip who dived to his right and took a really good catch down low. That’s Marsh’s second 90s score in two Tests and he’ll be shattered.

This is what’s happening between Marsh and the mirror as we speak…


50th over: Australia 163-4 (Smith 49, Marsh 96) BANG goes The Bison! Marsh launched himself at Hamza’s first ball and blazed it through covers. Power personified. But now he shows finesse, clipping off the hip for two more to go within a stroke of a fourth Test century. Nervous? We’ll see…


49th over: Australia 163-4 (Smith 49, Marsh 90) Shot Smudge! Aamer aimed it at his chin and Smith swivelled and smashed it square for FOUR. That’s only his third boundary of the innings but easily the prettiest. Australia lead by 217 and Pakistan shoulders are starting to slump.

48th over: Australia 159-4 (Smith 45, Marsh 90) Big step, big edge! It splits second slip and gully and runs away for four. Smith’s big head breaks into a grin as his father Geoff (50 Tests) and older brother Shaun (38 Tests) watch on from the grandstand. Hasan Ali keeps hurling them in at 125kph-plus but nothing is getting through these two at the moment.

In honour of Marsh entering the 90s let’s breathe in some Eu de Spirit 1991


47th over: Australia 152-4 (Smith 45, Marsh 86) Pakistan have to dig deep here but Marsh keeps attacking and Aamer can’t find the spark they need. He mashes Aamer past midwicket for two and then eases a single. Smith taps back the next three.

46th over: Australia 152-4 (Smith 45, Marsh 83) Marsh leans back and cuts Hasan but he can’t find the gap on the offside. He does better on the next but it’s only worth a single. No more runs but not much threat either.

45th over: Australia 151-4 (Smith 45, Marsh 82) Smith strikes! That was short from Aamer and he late cut it for four. Not a beautiful stroke but an effective one. That is just Smith’s second boundary from 125 deliveries. He leaves the next four, jamming down hard on the last as his spikes stick in the turf. I think that’s what happened. Given Smith is such a tangle of twitches it’s hard to tell when he’s being legitimately clumsy.

44th over: Australia 147-4 (Smith 41, Marsh 82) Marsh taps an easy single from Hasan’s first ball to take the lead beyond 200. We are now 100 runs down the track from Shafique dropping Marsh and making it 47-5.

43rd over: Australia 145-4 (Smith 40, Marsh 81) With Australia on the brink of a 200 lead, Pakistan turn back to Aamer Jamal. His seven overs have cost 40 runs so far this innings but his six wickets in the first dig at Perth was a quality Test debut so there’s hope. His third ball thumps into Smiths pads and draws an apeal. Onfield decision is NOT OUT but Pakistan review. Replays show no bat and the ball striking the knee roll of the front pad but the ball isn’t taking enough of leg stump to overturn the onfield call. Smith survives and celebrates with three lavish leaves to see out the over.

42nd over: Australia 137-4 (Smith 39, Marsh 74) CRACK! The Shaheen ball was fast but it was short and wide and Marsh leaned back and cut it to the fence. That’s his 11th four, ten more than Smith. Marsh clobbers the second delivery too but he doesn’t cream this one quite as sweetly. Still gets three runs. Shaheen fights back for the rest of the over, no more runs.

To celebrate Mitch Marsh entering the 80 let’s Rick’n’roll shall we?

41st over: Australia 137-4 (Smith 39, Marsh 74) Big swing by Smith! He mistimes it but it was good intent even if badly executed. He tries again on the next ball and skies it. Up, up… but the ball lands safely and they run two. Smith has flicked a switch here. He drives at the next one but again the timing isn’t there. Pakistan sense some panic and pitch jup on the fifth. There’s a big shout for lbw but they don’t review. Smith steps out to drive the last but it hits the toe end of the bat and no run results.

40th over: Australia 135-4 (Smith 37, Marsh 74) Shaheen is coming around the wicket now, trying to throw Smith off balance. But how do you pierce the tangled defences of a batter like Steve Smith. Marsh inside edges a drive for two runs but is bailed up by the next one. Shaheen has a big holler for lbw and onfield decision is NOT OUT but Pakistan, desperate, decide to review. Bad call by them, good call by the umpire. It’s missing by plenty.

39th over: Australia 132-4 (Smith 36, Marsh 72) Smith clips three through midwicket and Marsh takes two past backward point as Australia extend their lead to 186. This Test is slipping away from Pakistan.

38th over: Australia 127-4 (Smith 33, Marsh 70) News just in that the Shane Warne Legacy Test has delivered over 23,000 free four-minute heart tests at the MCG over the three days so far. A wonderful result for the Warne family and a fitting tribute to the great man whose rebadged Great Southern Stand watches over the action today. Marsh does his bit to raise the pulse off the fifth ball, carving it square for his tenth four.


37th over: Australia 121-4 (Smith 32, Marsh 65) Marsh drops Hasan’s first ball into covers and jogs a single. Smith faces his 100th ball and is still without a boundary from his 28 runs. But just as I type those words he goes BANG! pulling a short ball over square leg for a sweet FOUR. There’s the Smudge we love and miss!


36th over: Australia 116-4 (Smith 28, Marsh 64) Pakistan have been frugal in this final session but they need wickets to expose Australia’s tail. Marsh and Smith hve the home side cruising to 200 and the Test is in the balance. Shaheen returns to the fray to double-down on his frown and the fielder recalibrates into a shape that says short bowling is imminent. Marsh knows it too, staying watchful to the first four before fending one into covers to bring up the century partnership for this pair. It has come from 183 balls and has survived some close shaves, but it could prove a matchwinner.


35th over: Australia 115-4 (Smith 28, Marsh 63) Hasan is bending his back to force a mistake from Smith. He’s hurtling in, varying the angle of his run-up each time to deliver from wide of the crease and then close into the stumps. But nothing is working against Smith who ducks and weaves five in a row. Another one-run over for Australia as the lead creeps to 169.

34th over: Australia 114-4 (Smith 28, Marsh 62) Australia remain circumspect so far. Perhaps their orders are to make it to stumps and slow grind Pakistan into the dust along the way then put pedal to the metal on Day 4? Just one lonely run to Marsh from this miserly Hamza over.


33rd over: Australia 113-4 (Smith 28, Marsh 61) Here come the runs at last as Marsh pounds Hasan past midwicket for three leaving Smith to take a couple from the next. Scott Boland, Boxing Day Test hero and Australia’s 12th man for this Test is on the fence signing autographs and a chant goes up: ‘Boland! Boland!’ in memory of his remarkable Test debut a couple of summers back when, age 32, he tore England to pieces with 6 for 7. Not a bad reception for a bloke carrying the drinks…

32nd over: Australia 108-4 (Smith 26, Marsh 58) First runs of the session as Marsh taps a single from Hamza to take Australia’s lead to 162. That total alone would challenge this Pakistan side but Australia have Smith and Marsh well set and another six batters to come, not to mention a mighty bowling attack to defend any second innings total. Just one from this over as Australia get their bearings for this session. Will they shut up shop or open the shoulders?


31st over: Australia 107-4 (Smith 26, Marsh 57) Here we go, cricket fans. Final session of a frenzied Day 3. It’s been a crazy two sessions of highs and lows – brilliant bowling by Pat Cummins to wrap up the Pakistan tail, gutsy batting by the visitors to get so close to Australia’s first innings total. Then we had Pakistan’s bowlers blowing apart Australia’s top order and reducing them to 16-4 before Smith and Marsh staged a counter-attack of their own. Who will finish Day 3 with their noses in front? Crucial overs coming up.

30th over: Australia 107-4 (Smith 26, Marsh 57) Hamza’s economy rate is 1.28 today and this tenth over typifies his spell – tight lines and effort balls that Smith wants no part of. He chips a single from the last to deny Hamza a sixth maiden. That’ll be tea, folks. See you in 20 hot minutes.

29th over: Australia 106-4 (Smith 25, Marsh 57) Lights are on at the MCG as we close on the tea break. Australia’s lead is up over 150 now and Shaheen is thundering in, trying to find a wicket ball. Smith cuffs one around the corner for a single and Marsh skips and clips for another two to bring up the 100 for Australia. He celebrates by cleaving a short ball square for a magnificent four.

28th over: Australia 96-4 (Smith 24, Marsh 50) Hamza is challenging Smith with his line and bounce and Smith is hopping around, parrying and prodding but rarely scoring. He leaves a close one on ball five and there’s a shout but no review. Another maiden for Hamza, his fifth from nine overs.

27th over: Australia 95-4 (Smith 24, Marsh 50) Smith, always fidgety and a bit cranky today, swats two through covers. He has scrambled to 23 from over 60 deliveries and still looks a long way from the form that delivered him a 60+ average and the “best since Bradman” plaudits some years back. He adds three to his total from this Shaheen over.

26th over: Australia 93-4 (Smith 21, Marsh 50) Marsh pushes a single to reach his half-century and Smith picks off another. Marsh’s fifty comes from 70 deliveries and features eight fours at a strike-rate of 71.4.


FIFTY for Mitchell Marsh! (Australia 92 for 4)

That’s Marsh’s third half-century of the series after displacing Cameron Green for the all-rounder’s spot in the Australian XI. It comes from 870 deliveries and could be a match-turning innings to go with his man of the match performance in the first Test at Perth.

Mitchell Marsh raises his bat to mark his half century.
Mitchell Marsh raises his bat to mark his half century. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


25th over: Australia 90-4 (Smith 20, Marsh 49) An edge? A FOUR! Marsh jumped out to meet Shaheen on the up and his defensive stroke deflected through slips to the fence at third man. We have a weird break as the umpire sneaks off for what we assume is an urgent bathroom break. Marsh drops anchor himself, bashing Shaheen down the ground for another four. There’s a shout on the last but no one’s interested, not least the umpires who are doing a handover after that hasty dunny visit.


24th over: Australia 82-4 (Smith 19, Marsh 41) Trying to arrest this flow of runs and shake Pakistan out of its fielding funk, Masood turns to Hamza, the big quick who removed Travis Head and David Warner with such flourish. The big 31-year-old late bloomer from Karachi enters his seventh over with 2-9 and Smith shows him the respect those statistics deserve, playing out a maiden.

23rd over: Australia 82-4 (Smith 19, Marsh 41) Shaheen puts it full and wide and Marsh meets it on the up. Doesn’t get it all but two runs result. He gets plenty of the fifth delivery, dropping down to drive at high speed past poor Hamza and notch a sixth boundary from his 62 balls so far.


22nd over: Australia 76-4 (Smith 19, Marsh 36) Smith pounces on a poor opening delivery from Aamer to take two and then scampers a single on the next to turn the screws on Pakistan’s infield. Marsh swats at the third and it squirts away for a couple more then swipes another three runs to deep midwicket. Productive over for Australia. They lead by 130 runs.

21st over: Australia 67-4 (Smith 16, Marsh 30) Pakistan need to regain the initiative so they’ve turned to their mercurial destroyer Shaheen for a breakthrough. He rolls in around the wicket this time for a sixth over with 2-14 against his name and the scalps of Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne on his belt. Two good first balls are undone by a misfield on the third as captain Masood fumbles at mid-off and allows Marsh a single. Then there’s another bye on the last. After a fantastic day in the field yesterday where they took every chance, Pakistan are fraying at the edges and literally letting the Test slip through their fingers on Day 3.

20th over: Australia 66-4 (Smith 16, Marsh 29) Aamer rolls in for a fourth over and Marsh digs out two runs through midwicket and then a single through the same gap. Smith unfurls a cover drive on the fourth but the timing is a bit bung and only two runs result. He does better on the next, clipping a straight one off his toes to bring up the 50-partnership. It came from 87 balls and got a life on 46-4 when Shafique dropped his lollies.

19th over: Australia 59-4 (Smith 12, Marsh 26) Big appeal for lbw! Marsh looked flummoxed by that steepling ball from Hasan and let it thud into his back pad above the knee roll. Umpire says NOT OUT but Pakistan review. Replays show it at leg stump height and just clipping so it’s umpire’s call. Fuming, Hasan digs one in very short and clears both Smith and ‘keeper Rizwan. It runs away for four byes. If Pakistan lose this Test, sundries will be a culprit too. They gave away 52 in the first dig and have already leaked 11 in the second. Another big Smith swish on the last but no edge this time.


18th over: Australia 53-4 (Smith 12, Marsh 25) As 37,984 spectators at the MCG and millions more around the globe buzz from that dropped catch in Aamer Jamal’s last over, Marsh continues to swing that axe with mixed results. Driving, cutting, pulling. Marsh misses them all. Finally Marsh connects with the last and gets a single.

Rowan Sweeney has emailed: “G’day Angus! I’m normally an Australian supporter so ardent I make Glenn McGrath look like a glass 3/4 empty moaner, but I really hope Pakistan can go on and get a famous victory. World cricket needs and strong and proud Pakistan; and with such a young team, this could be the sort of performance you could build a dynasty around.”

Well said, Rowan! It’s great to have a fierce Test tussle on our hands.


17th over: Australia 52-4 (Smith 12, Marsh 24) Smith rolls his wrists to Hasan’s first delivery and takes two. That’s it though. Pakistan still look stunned by Shafique’s costly fumble in the last over. It would’ve made the score 46-5. Will Marsh now unleash the beast and make them pay?

16th over: Australia 50-4 (Smith 10, Marsh 24) Dropped! First ball after the drinks break and Marsh wound up at a wider ball from Aamer and it flew to first slip Shafique who snatched at it and put it down. Second slip had a chance to take the rebound too but was too late to the party. And now a misfield from the captain adds insult to injury. It runs away for four. Wow, that grassed catch was a massive miss. Did Pakistan just drop the Test?


15th over: Australia 46-4 (Smith 10, Marsh 20) An edge from Smith! Did the catch carry to first slip? There’s a third umpire intervention but replays show a clear half volley into the hands. Good decision there by Richard Illingsworth who spent the first minutes of this session stuck in an elevator with Channel Seven’s Mel McLaughlin, a young couple with a baby and a heroic stranger who kept everyone calm by sharing his hot chips.

14th over: Australia 46-4 (Smith 10, Marsh 20) BANG! BANG! BANG! goes Marsh! Aamer Jamal, having batted brightly, rolls in for his first over of the second innings and gets flayed on balls one, two and four. The first was a cut shot that flew to the rope, the second sliced hard over the slips cordon for another boundary. The fourth ball was carved over gully. Excellent counter-attack here from Marsh who is trying to rescue Australia’s worst five-over start since the 2015 Test at Nottingham when they lost their first four batters within 16 deliveries. Aamer gets it right on the last two but Marsh is smiling and that 12-run over means Australia now lead by 100.


13th over: Australia 34-4 (Smith 10, Marsh 8) Smith clips Hasan down leg for a single. The bowler returns fire, squaring Marsh up on the second and the ball skews off the back of the blade. Frustrated, Marsh heaves at the next but misses again. He’s being deceived by Hasan’s bounce. Fourth ball is straighter but Marsh shuffles across and squirts it square to get off strike.

12th over: Australia 32-4 (Smith 9, Marsh 7) Hamza rolls in for a sixth over. He has the scalps of David Warner and Travis Head hanging from his belt and almost adds The Bison to his bag as Marsh slashes at a wider ball and misses by only a smidge. The big allrounder has shown so far he won’t curtail his natural game no matter how dire the scorecard. Her clips a single off the fifth and Smith fends through gully for three on the last.

11th over: Australia 27-4 (Smith 5, Marsh 6) Hasan Ali has replaced Shaheen Afridi and Steve Smith kinks his knees and shuffles across the line to work his first delivery away for three. Marsh is utterly undone by the next. It zips past the blade and perhaps catches the back pad. Pakistan wonder aloud whether to review but don’t. Replays show that was a bee’s doolacky from the timbers. He finishes with another ripper. Fantastic start by Hasan.Pakistan have their tail up!

10th over: Australia 24-4 (Smith 2, Marsh 6) Hamza slides another few pearlers past the flailing edge of Steve Smith who has one run from 16 deliveries faced until he glances fine for another single on the fourth. Marsh defends another one through the gap at mid-off for a couple more.


We have a Test match! Don’t take your eyes off it. I’m going to give the knuckles a rest, it will be Angus Fontaine with you through the back of the day.

9th over: Australia 21-4 (Smith 1, Marsh 4) Oh, another false shot from Marsh. Big drive, inside edge this time, angled bat. Hard into the ground, could have played it back on so easily. Shaheen swinging it in again. Then shoots one just past the off stump! Marsh leaves. Shaheen tries the yorker, just overpitched by a couple of inches, Marsh gets down to the low full toss. Hardest full toss to play, it was still curving. Last ball of the over though, half volley, and Marsh gets going with a straight drive for four.

8th over: Australia 17-4 (Smith 1, Marsh 0) Hamza nearly gets Smith’s edge this time, swing in, seam away, just past the bat. Tremendous. Another surprises Smith with bounce at him, he jabs it down to the man at cover. Down the leg side again and Rizwan takes it marvellously, one glove. Then another ball that surprises Smith with bounce, it swings in and strikes him in the stomach before he gestures at the spot where it landed, talking himself through his own thoughts in the way that he does. Director’s DVD commentary.

7th over: Australia 17-4 (Smith 1, Marsh 0) It’s only the seventh over! Smith off the mark and off strike with his usual nudge. Shaheen goes up big time after hitting Marsh on the pad, but it’s tailing down. Then the one straight across he nearly nicks! Huge drive, no contact.


6th over: Australia 16-4 (Smith 0, Marsh 0) The hat-trick ball doesn’t work, the left-armer goes wide across Mitchell Marsh who is able to leave. Australia lead by only 70. Smith yet to score. Marsh edges into the gully, along the ground. The ball to Head (the only one) gets better with each replay, I should have pumped him up more.


WICKET! Head b Hamza 0, Australia 16-4

Ohhhhhh boy! Hamza is on a hat-trick! Fast and full, a bit of swing in, it’s not a totally unplayable yorker but it’s tricky to get first up, and Head plays across the line of it and is cleaned up!

Travis Head is bowled first ball by Mir Hamza as Australia collapse on Day 3.
Travis Head is bowled first ball by Mir Hamza as Australia collapse on Day 3. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


WICKET! Warner b Hamza 6, Australia 16-3

Disastrous! Warner chops on! Plays a pull shot at a ball that wasn’t very short, the line was outside off stump. Is that the end that Starc got that one to keep low from to Shaheen earlier? This one does the same, bottom edge as he swings the bat around, back onto middle. Warner leaves the MCG in Australian colours for the last time, and gets a very generous ovation. With only 6 to his name, he doesn’t carry on with bat-waving, but turns in a circle to give a slightly sheepish thumbs-up as he crosses the rope.

David Warner walks off the MCG in a Test for the last time, dismissed by Mir Hamza.
David Warner walks off the MCG in a Test for the last time, dismissed by Mir Hamza. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images


5th over: Australia 16-2 (Warner 6, Smith 0) Warner is away! Drives four down the ground when the bowler overpitches. Shaheen over the wicket, still getting the odd one down leg side to the left-hander, but otherwise bowling outside Warner’s off stump. The opener leaves where he can, and takes another leg bye to end the over, this one rebounding towards cover.

4th over: Australia 11-2 (Warner 2, Smith 0) Once we finally get going, Warner drops a single to leg and Smith gets a deflection off the pad for four leg byes. Hamza the bowler.

Well, this is one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard of at the cricket. We just had a delayed start to the second session by about six minutes because third umpire Richard Illingworth got stuck in a lift.


We shot our wrap of yesterday’s play in the MCC Library, by the way, if you want a look at that august institution. It is a true cricket nerd treasure trove in there, there’s an exhibition at the moment of some wonderful old documents, including the first dictionary to mention the word ‘cricket’, and some huge blown-up copies of the Sarfraz Nawaz scorecard from the famous 9-for.

Lunch on day three: Australia 6 for 2, leading by 60 in the third innings

Two early wickets, so Smith will begin with Warner after the break. Pakistan buoyant. Can they keep this coming?

Shaheen Afridi celebrates after picking up two early wickets before lunch.
Shaheen Afridi celebrates after picking up two early wickets before lunch. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


WICKET! Labuschagne c Rizwan b Shaheen 4, Australia 6-2

3rd over: Australia 6-2 (Warner 1) Last ball before lunch, can you believe that!

They set him up for it, and it works at the last gasp. Shaheen’s second ball of the over has swing again, into Labuschagne, who manages an inside edge for four, one ball after he nearly gloves another attempt down the leg side. Slip and leg slip in place, and that’s where they want him to play. Shaheen bowls too wide of leg fro the fourth ball, then too wide of off. But with his last opportunity he gets it just on that leg stump line, and Labuschagne tries to glance but can’t catch up with the swing, edging it through and Rizwan erupts!

Marnus Labuschagne leaves the field after being dismissed by Shaheen Afridi.
Marnus Labuschagne leaves the field after being dismissed by Shaheen Afridi. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


2nd over: Australia 2-1 (Warner 1, Labuschagne 0) Decent over from Hamza, keeps Warner quiet and makes him play at most of those balls, but can’t draw an error. Shan Masood is tweaking the field constantly. One more over until lunch.

1st over: Australia 2-1 (Warner 1, Labuschagne 0) First ball to Labuschagne, beats him handsomely too, shaping in and then seaming away from the right-hander this time. Gets too straight next ball and Labuschagne can get pad in the way outside leg stump and take an extra. Warner digs out a swinging yorker, then dabs away a single behind point.

WICKET! Khawaja c Rizwan b Shaheen 0, Australia 0-1

That’s the ideal start! Second ball of the innings, Shaheen comes left-arm over, angles it towards the stumps, swings it away, and kisses the edge of the bat. Wonderful new-ball bowling, that’s what Shaheen has struggled to achieve so far in Australia. Scrambles off the seam after it swings, at just the right length.

Shaheen Afridi celebrates the wicket of Usman Khawaja for a duck on day three.
Shaheen Afridi celebrates the wicket of Usman Khawaja for a duck on day three. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images


Australia to face a couple of overs before lunch…

Pakistan all out 264, Australia lead on the first innings by 54

Australia happy to have wrapped up Pakistan, but 54 isn’t a huge lead, the visitors have done well to haul it back to something manageable. They will still have to bowl very well to stay in this game, but that would have been the case had they been 50 in front. Batting last here will be hard. Australia in the best position, obviously.

WICKET! Hamza st Carey b Lyon 2, Pakistan 264-10

73.4 overs: Pakistan 264 (Jamal 33) Last-wicket stand, so Jamal goes laaaaarge! Charges Lyon and belts him way over midwicket for six. Not just over the rope, into the crowd. You have to hit them huge at the MCG and he does. Tries again next ball, and gets lucky. Cummins has pushed Travis Head out to that same spot, and a flat shot is spilt out there. Jamal has run a single, and may regret that, as Hamza swings at the next ball and misses. Has dragged his toe out of his ground as he gets down on one knee, and Carey has the bails off.

73rd over: Pakistan 257-9 (Jamal 26, Hamza 2) Mir Hamza gets off the mark with a sliced two. Cummins 5 for 48. Pakistan down by 61.

WICKET! Hasan Ali b Cummins 2, Pakistan 255-5

Five wickets for Pat Cummins, and that is gold-class fast bowling.

Does start with a bouncer, Hasan not having to do much as it goes down leg. Beats the outside edge with the next one, Hasan pushing at it. Couple of slips in, and Smith almost has a catch as Cummins gets the ball to rear! Horrible delivery. Hasan Ali knows nothing about it, he’s looking at the sky having yanked his head away as that ball crushes his gloves. The padding takes just enough pace off it to make it fall short. Then the fifth ball of the over goes straight through, serious inward jag off the pitch again. Hasan isn’t sure what to play, he’s hanging back, then pushes his hands down the line of the ball in a vain attempt at defence. But nowhere near it, and it hits the outside curve of the off stump.

Pat Cummins raises the ball to the crowd on Day 3 after taking five wickets.
Pat Cummins raises the ball to the crowd on Day 3 after taking five wickets. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


72nd over: Pakistan 255-8 (Jamal 26, Hasan 2) Doing his bit is Hasan Ali, nudging one instead of trying a glory shot. And Jamal goes at Lyon too, a half step towards the pitch and smacks it over midwicket. The ball goes squarer than he intended but still picks up four. Then he pulls out the reverse sweep! Only gets one as Starc dives well at backward point, but an interesting shot.

Pakistan behind by 63. Pat Cummins is coming back on, eight overs short of the second new ball, four wickets in his pocket. Bumpers coming?

71st over: Pakistan 250-8 (Jamal 22, Hasan 1) At eight down, Jamal decides it’s time to go. Drives Starc square first of all, not entirely controlled but gets it past gully and away to the fence. Then gets his front foot out of the way and cannons an on drive down the ground! Serious hit, along the turf for four. That’s with a couple of singles to make it 10 from the over, and 68 behind.

70th over: Pakistan 240-8 (Jamal 13, Hasan 0) Eight down. Hasan Ali can bat, smashed a first-class ton in the Qaid comp a few years ago, as much as that was a one-off. A very risky counterattacking kind of innings, it was, and he came off. But he can smash runs for shorter periods more regularly, he’s hit 20 sixes and is in his 23rd Test. Blocks his first four balls today.

Lyon 3 for 61.

WICKET! Shaheen lbw Lyon 21, Pakistan 240-8

Off spin 101 from Lyon. Around the wicket, beats the edge of a forward grope from Shaheen, the left-hander with the off break turning away. Then bowls a straight one that hits him in line with off stump, the batter on the back foot awkwardly trying to get bat on it across the line. Hits him on the pad flap but it’s the back leg, so Shaheen’s review just shows it hitting the top of off stump.

Nathan Lyon celebrates the dismissal of Shaheen Shah Afridi on day three.
Nathan Lyon celebrates the dismissal of Shaheen Shah Afridi on day three. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images


69th over: Pakistan 240-7 (Jamal 13, Shaheen 21) Nailed by Shaheen! That’s a good shot, gets on the front dog and clouts Starc out through the covers. Not the elegant timing type, more the give-it-everything type. Similar approach as he swings across the line and gets a top edge over Carey. Four more! Steve Smith from slip collects the ball and then stays on the fence, a very fine deep third rather than a true long stop behind the keeper. Next, a single to midwicket. “Good batting, good batting,” rumble the knowledgable.

That’s Shaheen’s highest Test score, and the gap between the teams is down to 78.

68th over: Pakistan 231-7 (Jamal 13, Shaheen 12) Lyon to Jamal, two through cover. Then beats the edge and then takes it in consecutive deliveries, but into the ground. Slip and leg slip. Jamal drives at width but on the bounce to cover this time. Drinks, with Pakistan behind by 87 runs.

67th over: Pakistan 229-7 (Jamal 11, Shaheen 12) Starc on for Cummins now, that long run in. Just one slip with this older ball, as well as a gully and a short leg standing a few paces back for Shaheen. Left-arm over the wicket to left-hand bat. Mostly defends, but gets surprised by a short ball that doesn’t get up and slams him on the gloves. He’s ok.

66th over: Pakistan 229-7 (Jamal 11, Shaheen 12) Vegemite on toast! Talk about a smear, Shaheen gets down on one knee and swipes Lyon over midwicket for another bouncing boundary. Unconvincing but it works this time.

65th over: Pakistan 223-7 (Jamal 10, Shaheen 7) A run going fine for Shaheen. Jamal aims a more powerful swing at Cummins but only gets one to fine leg. Cummins around the wicket to Shaheen, in at the pads but the Pakistani paceman keeps it out.


64th over: Pakistan 221-7 (Jamal 9, Shaheen 6) There goes Shaheen! Lyon back on, and the tall left-hander shuffles down and smears him over mid on. Not by much, but gets four. Keeps the strike too with a push square. The deficit is down into double figures.

63rd over: Pakistan 216-7 (Jamal 9, Shaheen 1) So it’s Shaheen Shah Afridi at 9, which is too high for him really, he’s a slapper of the ball more than a player of actual innings. Can lump a couple of sixes before he hits one up in the air, but the latter comes along soon enough. Starts with a gentle run off the hip today. Now to Jamal – does he look to advance the scoring from here, as the more accomplished batter? Not to that ball, which seams sharply, goes over leg stump, swings after it passes, and nearly beats Carey who stops it on the bounce wide to his left. That went miles off the straight. Jamal ducks the shorter one to follow. Cummins 4 for 44 so far.

WICKET! Rizwan c Warner b Cummins 42, Pakistan 215-7

There he goes. Did the lack of strike play a part? Misreads the pace off the pitch, must like Shafique yesterday. Sees a driveable length wide of the stumps, throws his hands through the line of the ball. Cummins has two covers in place, Warner squarer and closer, and Rizwan is too early on the shot, half sliced, straight into those reliable hands for the 89th catch of Warner’s Test career.

Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan.
Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan. Photograph: Morgan Hancock/CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images


62nd over: Pakistan 215-6 (Rizwan 42, Jamal 9) A shot! A shot from Jamal. Gets strike after Rizwan’s glance, and lays into a pull against Hazlewood. Leathers it well in front of square. Then takes a run to mid off and again flirts with a second as Marnus lines up the stumps. Labuschagne is one of the best ground fielders in the world these days, you can’t take him on. Rizwan pulls behind square to keep the strike. The deficit is down to 103.

61st over: Pakistan 208-6 (Rizwan 40, Jamal 4) There it is, not quite in the groove is Rizwan – plays it out past cover, takes the first, never a second but he takes off. Jamal sends him back. Labuschagne again fast in getting rid of the ball, and his throw from halfway to the boundary at cover only just misses as Rizwan dives in. Would have been a third umpire forensic job had it hit.

Australia with a leg slip in for Jamal now, and he’s not sure about his ducking technique anymore. Turns and gets hit by a short ball in the back of the shoulder. But then gets the bird out again to get under Cummins, and again Cummins wants the toe of the bat. Hands on head. Gets a leg bye, Rizwan another run.

60th over: Pakistan 205-6 (Rizwan 38, Jamal 4) A slightly different duck from Jamal, twisting to his left rather than bowing straight at Hazlewood, but the periscope is up again and it’s close to the ball again. Blocks the full ball to close the over and Rizwan will see some bowling next.

59th over: Pakistan 205-6 (Rizwan 38, Jamal 4) He’s hogging the strike! Beaten by Cummins a couple of times, but Jamal glances a run from the fifth ball of the over. He’s doing a lot of leaving. Good temperament in support. You just wonder if this time out of the action will unbalance Rizwan, who started so productively.

58th over: Pakistan 204-6 (Rizwan 38, Jamal 3) Rizwan pulls a run first ball, happy to give Jamal the strike, and there’s a lot more ducking. I think the Australians are interested in this periscope bat situation. Josh Hazlewood also has an “oooh” to himself after his short ball on off stump doesn’t miss the bat by much. Jamal pushes away a run to point to end the over.

57th over: Pakistan 202-6 (Rizwan 37, Jamal 2) Having kept strike, Rizwan launches a bottom-handed drive hard at mid off and can’t score. Cummins opening proceedings for the day. Hits the next one through cover on the up, diagonal bat, and is thinking of running four but Labuschagne gets rid of the ball so quickly after sliding into its path at deep cover. Three runs, Jamal on strike and he dips down like the wooden bird that fills in for Homer at the power plant, leaning forward at the waist to go under the ball. Only problem is that his action leaves the bat poking up in the air behind him, and Cummins nearly nicks the toe of it with that short ball. The look on the bowler’s face, he knew it was close. Hard dismissal to plan for.

56th over: Pakistan 199-6 (Rizwan 34, Jamal 2) Like many a long-distance swimmer, Hazlewood is straight in the channel. Rizwan is happy to go fishing in those waters, twice reaching out to steer Hazlewood away for two. Then thwacks across the line with a cross-bat shot off the front foot to get a mistimed under edge behind square for one run.

Revised start is 10:45am, which is 25 minutes away. So half an hour early becomes 15 minutes late.

The hessian covers are coming off the pitch now.

I think it’ll pass over pretty quickly.

Well, I was too optimistic. Bit of misty drizzle has come in over the MCG, so our early start will now be a late start.

General view of covers on the pitch
Overcast conditions in Melbourne delay the start of play on day three. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


Or it’s some other number of minutes that I’m yet to determine. Anyway, we’ll be on soon.

Remember we start half an hour early to make up for the rain on day one. Which is in four minutes. So stand by.

Meanwhile, Andy Bull has pulled together the votes for our Guardian men’s Test team of the year. Thoughts?

Here is the wires report on yesterday’s day of play.


Good (Australian) morning, Christmas bike gang. I say that because I assume that you have all received bikes for Christmas, and by now you have installed the pedals and lights and reflectors and you are ready to cruise around your neighbourhoods in a big OBO phalanx.

Day three in Melbourne has dawned cloudy and dull so far, but not much in the way of rain predicted or evident, so with any luck we get the full day again. It just won’t be the gold and blue colour scheme of yesterday. Wonder if it will do anything to aid bowlers. Australia’s quicks were really good yesterday after Nathan Lyon got the first wicket, especially Pat Cummins with his burst that took out the well-set Abdullah Shafique before Babar Azam.

Pakistan slid a long way after that, from 124 to 1 all the way to 170 for 6. By stumps that score was up to 194, with Rizwan to resume on 29 and Aamer Jamal on 2. They have a lot of work to do with their team still 124 behind.

Let’s see what they can do.

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