ABU DHABI:Pakistan were on the verge of their first series win over Australia in 20 years and victory in the second Test after skipper Misbah-ul Haq rewrote the re code books with his belligerent batting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Misbah smashed a 56-ball hundred, equaling West Indian legend Viv Richards’s record made against England at Antigua in 1986, minutes after breaking the mark for the fastest fifty which he made off just 21 balls at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Misbah’s stunning blitz set up Pakistan to declare their second innings at 293-3, setting a daunting 603-run target for Australia who suffered another batting collapse before reaching 143-4 at stumps on the fourth day.
Steven Smith (38) and Mitchell Marsh (26) were at the crease as Australia still need another 460 runs for an unlikely win or bat out three sessions on the final day to avoid a 2-0 whitewash, their first series defeat against the Pakistanis since a 1-0 loss in Pakistan in 1994.
Australia’s woes with the bat continued as left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (3-65) struck regular blows by dismissing Chris Rogers (two), Glenn Maxwell (four) and Michael Clarke (five) in 19 balls to leave Australia tottering at 43-3.
Clarke was beaten by a beautiful turner as the Australian captain pushed on the back foot only to see his stumps disturbed.
That summed up Clarke’s miserable series with only 57 runs.
David Warner had held on end intact, reaching his 13th half-century before miscuing a drive off Mohammad Hafeez and was caught for 58.
Earlier Misbah, notorious for his slow batting in one-day internationals, removed all doubts about his credentials.
In all he hit 11 boundaries and five sixes off 57 balls during his two centuries in the match, a blitz which overshadowed Azhar Ali’s feat of 100 not out, making this only the second occasion in Test cricket’s history when two batsmen scored a century in each innings in the same match.
Australian brothers Ian and Greg Chappell scored centuries in each innings against New Zealand at Wellington in 1973.
Misbah beat the previous record of the fastest half-century held by South Africa’s Jacques Kallis scored against Zimbabwe at Cape Town in 2004.
Misbah hit two boundaries off paceman Mitchell Starc to reach his hundred, punched the air in delight and waved his bat to team-mates.
This is also the second fastest hundred in terms of time, behind Australia’s Jack Gregory who reached a hundred in 70 minutes against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1921.
Misbah took 74 minutes to reach the mark.
Misbah cut loose after Younis Khan fell for 46, hitting three sixes and a four off one Steven Smith over and then hit the spinner for his fourth six an over later.
In all he hit four boundaries and as many sixes in his fifty. Misbah pushed Starc for three to complete the fastest Test fifty ever which took only 24 minutes.
The previous fastest fifty in terms of time was held by Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ashraful who took 27 minutes for his fifty against India at Dhaka in 2007.
The previous fastest Test half-century by a Pakistani batsman was by Shahid Afridi who took 26 balls to reach the mark, against India at Bangalore in 2005.
Majid Khan previously held the record for the fastest hundred by a Pakistani, scored off 74 balls against New Zealand in Karachi in 1976.
Pakistan had resumed at 61-2 on the fourth morning, losing only Younis Khan to Smith before lunch.
Younis, who scored century in each innings of Pakistan’s 221-run win in the first Test in Dubai, finished with a Pakistani record of 468 runs in two matches.