Pakistan vs Australia, First test, day three: David Warner falls, Usman Khawaja misses century

Only two wickets fell on day three of the Rawalpindi Test between before bad light once again brought about a premature end to play.

Only two wickets fell on day three of the Rawalpindi Test between Pakistan and Australia before bad light once again brought about a premature end to play.

Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne each scored half-centuries as Australia set about chasing Pakistan’s mammoth first innings total at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

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On the flat deck, Khawaja and Warner combined for a rapid century stand before off-spinner Sajid Khan removed the latter for 68 just after the lunch break.

The left-hander badly misjudged the length of a Khan delivery that crashed halfway up middle stump, with Warner stranded attempting a cut shot on the backfoot.

“He was the master of his own downfall on that occasion,” commentator Rob Key said.

Former Australian batter Simon Katich continued: “He’d be disappointed with that, he played so well … he could have easily come forward and defended on the front foot.”

Although he didn’t reach triple figures, his Test record against Pakistan remains impeccable. His most recent Test scores against the Asian nation are 68, 335*, 154, 55, 113, 144.

As pointed out by statistician Swamp, only Sir Donald Bradman boasts a more prolific six-innings streak against a single opposition.

The 156-run opening partnership between Khawaja and Warner was the highest for Australia in Pakistan since Mark Taylor and Michael Slater combined for 176 at the same venue in 1994.

Khawaja looked destined for a fairytale century before he fell agonisingly short of an 11th Test century, dismissed for 97 in the afternoon session.

The Pakistan-born cricketer was on the verge of becoming the first Australian to score a Test century in Pakistan since 1998, but spinner Nauman Ali snared the crucial breakthrough in the 54th over.

Khawaja bravely attempted a reverse sweep, only for Ali’s delivery to generate some extra bounce and strike the batter’s glove.

Imam-ul-Haq claimed a smart catch at short leg, and Pakistan captain Babar Azam called for the review after on-field umpire Aleem Dar shook his head.

Replays showed the Kookaburra had made contact with Khawaja’s glove, and the Australian opener gingerly made his way back to the pavilion.

“Why, oh why did he play that shot on 97? I have no idea what he was thinking,” commentator Mike Haysman said.

It was the third time he had been dismissed for 97 in Test cricket, becoming the first player in history to achieve the bizarre feat.

Australian vice-captain Steve Smith and world No. 1 batter Marnus Labuschagne then combined for a 50-run stand before the dreaded bad light intervened once again.

Dark clouds descended on Rawalpindi and umpires adjudicated that it was too dangerous to proceed, with stumps called at approximately 4.45pm local time.

It was a frustrating outcome considering the historic Test looks destined to end as a draw with only six wickets falling in the opening three days of action.

With only six sessions of cricket left in Rawalpindi, the odds of an Australian victory are dwindling.

Earlier, the Pakistanis kindly gifted Khawaja an extra life at the crease, with Fawad Alam dropping a regulation catch at gully.

Speedster Shaheen Shah Afridi lured Khawaja into playing the cover drive, with the thick outside edge flying quickly towards Alam.

But the 36-year-old grassed the chance, and Afridi sunk to his knees in disbelief.

“Easy, easy catch,” Pakistan great Waqar Younis said in commentary.

“Big miss. Shaheen is not going to like that, that’s for sure.”

To rub salt into the wounds, Khawaja, who was on 23 at the time, cracked consecutive boundaries off the next two deliveries.

The series opener will resume on Monday with the first balls scheduled for 3.45pm AEDT. Labuschagne is unbeaten on 69 with Smith not out at the other end on 24.

Originally published as Usman Khawaja misses fairytale century after David Warner’s 84-year first

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