David Warner celebrates his third Test century in a row. Picture: David Warner.David Warner on Friday became only the second Australian since Don Bradman to score three consecutive Test centuries, but Pakistan have strengthened their grip on the first Test.
Sixth-placed Pakistan have defied the odds and placed Australia in a position they have seldom been in during the past 12 months.
They are facing the daunting prospect of huge fourth-innings run chase after their batsmen, with the exception of Warner, folded against Pakistan’s inexperienced attack, giving up a 151-run deficit. Pakistan will start the fourth day on 0-38, an overall lead of 189.
Although conditions remain far from treacherous, batting became more difficult on the third day on a wearing pitch. Batting last for survival on the final day will not be a palatable prospect.
But the pitch could not be blamed for Australia’s moderate effort with the bat. They would have fancied themselves to get much closer to Pakistan’s 454, particularly against an attack which entered the match with eight caps and 22 wickets.
There was no weak link for Pakistan, whose bowlers fought back strongly after Warner’s onslaught.
Debutant Yasir Shah, with 3-66, was the pick of the bunch, capturing the key wicket of Warner for 133 with a leg-break which turned and bounced sharply to breach the opener’s defences.
Four of Australia’s top seven made decent starts but none could follow Warner or match the efforts of Sarfraz Ahmed and Younish Khan by pushing on to big scores.
Nor was Australia helped by several sloppy dismissals, most notably those of Steve Smith and Brad Haddin.
Outplayed by the hosts with both bat and ball during the first half of the game, Australia will need to draw upon every bit of belief Darren Lehmann has instilled in the side if they are to save this Test.
Their underwhelming performance on the the lifeless Dubai wicket is in marked contrast to the electrifying brand of cricket they played on the bouncy wickets of home and South Africa.
They would be in deeper trouble if not for Warner’s ninth Test century, made under the duress of a groin injury he suffered during the limited-overs series.
“It’s very sore and tight,” Warner said before play.
In the form of his life, Warner made his third ton on the trot, placing him in rarefied company. He is one of seven Australians to have achieved the feat, joining Adam Gilchrist as the only two to have done so since the peerless Don Bradman in 1948.
Six of his nine Test centuries have come since the start of last summer’s Ashes series. His twin efforts in the third Test against South Africa were pivotal to Australia knocking off the world No.1 in their backyard earlier this year.
Displaying his trademark aggression, Warner reached triple figures, off 128 balls, with an exquisite cover drive. His familiar century celebrations now include the cradling of his bat in a dedication to his six-week old baby.
Warner was the only Australian batsman to dominate Pakistan’s young bowlers, who hit back hard after a 128-run opening stand between Warner and Chris Rogers. It was the fifth time from 21 innings the unlikely pair have passed the 100 mark together.
Rogers’ demise proved a turning point for Pakistan, who have played at a level many thought they were not capable of.
It triggered a steady flow of wickets for Australia, who slumped from 0-128 to all out for 303 in the space of just over two sessions.
Several batsmen had only themselves to blame for their demise. Rogers chopped on, Smith failed to play over a long-hop from Shah while Haddin played on against the new ball attempting an expansive drive.
Alex Doolan’s run out for five was soon followed by a cheap dismissal for Michael Clarke, who was caught at bat pad to a straight one from left-arm finger spinner Zulfiqar Babar.
Pakistan struck three times with the second new ball to extinguish any hope of a revival from the lower order though Mitchell Johnson made a fighting 37.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.