Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan watches the ball travel to the slips cordon off the bowling of Australia's Josh Hazlewood during the second Test at the MCG yesterday.
Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan watches the ball travel to the slips cordon off the bowling of Australia's Josh Hazlewood during the second Test at the MCG yesterday. JULIAN SMITH

Pakistan digs in as rain continues to wreak havoc

CRICKET: Opening batsman Azhar Ali has put Pakistan in control of the Boxing Day Test, but rain continued to play havoc in Melbourne yesterday.

The tourists were 6-310 when rain once again struck, with Azhar (139) and Mohammad Amir (28) combining for a 42-run seventh-wicket partnership.

Earlier, Azhar and first-Test centurion Asad Shafiq combined for a 115-run partnership to guide Pakistan out of trouble after slumping to 4-125.

Shafiq was eventually removed for 50, edging to Steve Smith at second slip off the bowling of Jackson Bird.

He was shortly joined back in the pavilion by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who nicked off to Josh Hazlewood for 10, leaving the tourists at 6-268 before Azhar and Amir steadied the ship.

Azhar endured a scare in his innings when Bird deflected a Shafiq shot on to the stumps at the non-striker's end. Despite Azhar being clearly back in his crease, the third umpire mistakenly flashed "Out” on the MCG big screen before quickly changing it to the correct "Not out”.

Azhar battled his way bit by bit to his 12th Test century - sucking the life out of Australia's bowlers with every defensive stroke.

After going full sessions without scoring boundaries, it took him 217 balls to make his hundred - but it was the kind of tough-as-nails ton that can turn the course of a tour.

Since Azhar's debut at Lord's in 2010, he has scored more Test runs than Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, Misbah-ul-Haq and AB de Villiers.

This calendar year he has made more than 1000 runs, with a resume that includes a 139 against England at Edgbaston and a 302 not out against the West Indies - only the fourth triple hundred by a Pakistani.

Now it's been capped off by a memorable hundred at cricket's coliseum, with his fighting knock only the ninth Pakistani century at the MCG in Test history.

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