MELBOURNE: Azhar Ali hit the highest score by a Pakistan batsman in Australia on Wednesday on the third day of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Azhar overtook Majid Khan’s previous highest score of 158 posted in Melbourne 44 years ago and was just three runs short of Viv Richards’ ground best of 208 for a visiting batsman when the declaration came.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq called a halt at 443 for nine shortly after lunch upon the dismissal of Wahab Riaz leaving Azhar unconquered on 205 off 364 balls in almost 10 hours at the crease spread over three days.
At tea on the third day, Australia were cruising at 131 for one to trail by 312 runs with David Warner on 77 and Usman Khawaja not out 39.
Warner raised his half-century off 55 balls, reached 5,000 Test runs and was heading for his first Test century at the MCG.
Wrist-spinner Yasir Shah took the only wicket, bowling Matt Renshaw for 10 with a flighted leg break.
Azhar batted on after going to lunch on 196 but partner Sohail Khan was run out on his lunch score of 65 off 65 balls.
The pair plastered the Australian attack in an unbeaten stand of 118 as the tourists set up a declaration which came when Wahab Riaz skied Hazlewood and was caught and bowled for one.
It was Azhar’s 12th Test century in his 56th Test and third against Australia, swelling his aggregate for the calendar year to 1,155 runs at 64.16.
In October, Azhar joined a select club of batsmen with an unbeaten 302 against the West Indies in Dubai and became the first batsman in day-night Test cricket to achieve a triple century.
It was also the fourth triple hundred by a Pakistani batsman.
Mohammad Amir was out in the first session, caught down leg-side by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off Mitchell Starc for 29 off 27 balls.
Sohail Khan, brought in for Rahat Ali in the only change from the Gabba Test loss, slammed four sixes off spinner Nathan Lyon to reach his best Test score, before he paid for tardy running when called through for a quick single by Azhar.
Hazlewood claimed his 100th Test wicket in 25 Tests at an average of 25.79 with the dismissal of Riaz.