SYDNEY: Younis Khan claimed his 34th Test century and first in Australia to keep Pakistan’s first innings barely alive in the final Test in Sydney on Thursday.
The 39-year-old Pakistani great became the first batsman to score Test hundreds in 11 countries as he turned around an indifferent series with his first century since October.
He fought back from a dreadful mix-up which led to the run-out of the team’s leading scorer of the series, Azhar Ali, to spearhead the Pakistan fightback on a rain-affected day three.
Younis went to stumps on 136 off 279 balls with the tourists still trailing Australia by 267 runs and 68 from avoiding the follow-on. Pakistan were 271 for eight with Yasir Shah five not out.
Younis showed Australia his undoubted quality with 15 fours and a six off spinner Nathan Lyon, with his century coming off 208 balls.
In 206 Test innings, Younis has only been dismissed once in the 90s with 91 against New Zealand in Auckland in 2001.
“Younis has been a great servant for Pakistan cricket and scoring a hundred here as well. Now he’s scored a hundred in each Test-playing country, so it’s a big achievement,” Azhar said.
“It’s probably his last tour to Australia so it’s a really happy moment for each and everyone of us.”
While Younis held court, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq continued his hapless series when he holed out to deep mid-wicket off Lyon.
Tellingly, his 18 was his highest score of a series in which he has totalled just 38 runs at a paltry average of 7.60.
Azhar was run out for 71 in a poor piece of running with Younis, when he could not beat home Mitchell Starc’s throw from mid-on to the striker’s end.
Younis drove Lyon to a diving fielder at short midwicket and hesitated, leading to some indecision with Azhar before Starc swooped in to throw back to the ‘keeper.
“Me and Younis trust each other really well when it comes to running between the wickets. Unfortunately in this innings we had some bad calls and nearly ran each other out three times,” Azhar said.
Azhar passed Mohsin Khan (390) as Pakistan’s highest scorer in a series in Australia, but he achieved it in three Tests, compared to Mohsin’s five Tests in 1983.
In five innings, Azhar has scored 395 runs in this series at 98.75.
Azhar and Younis put on 146 runs for the third wicket, restoring the Pakistan innings after they were six for two.
Australia bowling coach David Saker said he expected the home side not to enforce the follow-on if the situation eventuated.
“I would assume that we will go out and have another bat and put some more wear in the wicket and have a bowl in the last day and a bit,” he said.
Asad Shafiq was out after he played well forward to left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe and got an inside edge for Steve Smith to take a fine outstretched right-hand catch for four.
It was Smith’s eighth catch in what has been a brilliant fielding series for the Australia skipper.
Sarfraz Ahmed was caught in the gully off Starc for 18 late in the day and Mohammad Amir played a rash shot to be caught in the deep off Lyon for four.
Lyon grabbed a third wicket when he bowled Wahab Riaz for eight in the day’s penultimate over.
Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade left the ground with a stomach illness shortly after play got underway in mid-afternoon following rain, but is expected to recover in time for Friday’s play.
First-innings centurion Matt Renshaw also left the field after being struck on the helmet, and was assessed for concussion. It was his second head knock in three days.
“Matt came off with some headaches and he will be assessed through the night and in the morning,” Saker said.
“With head knocks you have to take them quite seriously.” -AFP