Rain halts Australia’s charge with victory in sight

Wet weather forces early end to day three but not before hosts pick up three Pak wickets

Adelaide: Pakistan was battling to stave off defeat in the day-night second Test against Australia on Sunday after being forced to follow on, with Tim Paine’s men needing seven wickets to clinch the series 2-0.
The visitors, who have lost 13 consecutive Tests in Australia, were in big trouble at 39 for three when rain forced an early end, 248 runs behind with two days left and their top order decimated. They had resumed on an overcast and cold afternoon teetering at 96 for six in their first innings, in reply to Australia’s 589 for three declared, built on the back of David Warner’s monumental 335 not out. Yasir Shah smacked a dogged maiden Test century and Babar Azam hit 97 but they were all out for 302 and still 287 runs adrift, with Mitchell Starc the hero, taking 6-66. Australian skipper Tim Paine enforced the follow on and it started badly for Pakistan, whose first task was to survive intact for 15 minutes before the dinner break. They failed with opener Imam-ul-Haq — recalled after being overlooked for the first Test in Brisbane, which they lost by an innings and five runs — out lbw for a duck to Josh Hazlewood. It was quickly 11 for two with Starc tempting skipper Azhar Ali into a thick outside edge and Steve Smith taking a quality catch just seconds before a shower forced them off.
The rain had been threatening all day and when they returned after 30 minutes Hazlewood bagged the key wicket of dangerman Azam for two, caught behind by Paine. But more rain soon blew in, to Australia’s frustration, and the umpires called it a day. Earlier, Yasir and Azam had kept Pakistan’s slim hopes alive with disciplined first innings batting.
Brief scores: Pakistan (2nd innings): 39/3 (Shan Masood 14 not out, Asad Shafiq 8 not out; Josh Hazlewood 2/15); Pakistan (1st innings): 302 all out (Yasir Shah 113, Babar Azam 97; Mitchell Starc 6/66); Australia (1st innings): 589/3 decl (David Warner 335, Marnus Labuschagne 165; Shaheen Afridi 3/88). (AFP)

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