Batsmen dominate in Darwin

A late haul of four wickets from young leg-spinner Cullen Bailey has kept the door open for an Australia A victory in their four day match against Pakistan A. However, despite Bailey’s impressive spell, the real star of the third day was Pakistani opener Mohammad Hafeez.

Hafeez began the day unbeaten on 86, with Pakistan A still trailing by 345 runs on the first innings. Hafeez immediately clicked into gear, building on his overnight stand with Shahid Yousuf and bringing up his century. His effort was especially impressive off the back of 31 overs of off-spin in Australia A’s innings, and he took on both the pace of Tait and Johnson and the spin of Dan Cullen with relish, as Pakistan A dominated the morning session.

Australia A managed to hit back before lunch however, as Dan Cullen trapped Shahid Yousuf in front for 71, ending a crucial partnership of 178 for the second wicket. Shane Watson also contributed before the break as he dismissed Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq with the final ball of the session, and at lunch Pakistan A were 3/279.

After the break, Australia A needed further wickets to keep a realistic chance of forcing a result, but Hafeez was joined by Bazid Khan, and it took almost 20 overs for the fourth wicket to fall. Hafeez passed 150 and was looking set for a double when the new ball was taken, but Mitchell Johnson did the trick towards the end of a lengthy spell. Hafeez was caught behind for 180 after more than 6 and a half hours at the crease. Johnson then clean bowled Bazid Khan to have Pakistan A five down and still 157 runs behind, but it was the last breakthrough of the middle session.

After tea, Australia A managed to wrap up the Pakistani innings in quick time, removing the last five wickets for just 26 runs, but it was too late to leave anything but the slimmest hope of a match victory. Cullen Bailey was the star of the later part of the day, first removing Bazid Khan for 53 and then running through the tail with ease on a wicket that was taking some turn. Bailey finished with 4/71, while Dan Cullen removed Mohammad Salman along the way, and Pakistan A finished their innings on 431, still 79 runs in arrears.

Australia A were left with an hour of play before stumps to try and stretch their lead, and they began well thanks to the explosive batting of Phil Jaques. Jaques was the dominant partner in an opening stand of 53, but the Australians suffered a double blow just before stumps, as Rogers and Cosgrove fell inside the last 15 deliveries of the day. The lead at stumps was 136, with Australia A needing quick runs before lunch tomorrow to open the door for a declaration and the chance of a win.

Australia A 6/510 dec.
Shane Watson 161*, Brad Haddin 129
Abdur Rehman 3/145, Mohammad Hafeez 2/116

Pakistan A 431
Mohammad Hafeez 180, Shahid Yousuf 71
Cullen Bailey 4/71, Mitchell Johnson 3/93

Australia A 2/57
Phil Jaques 37*, Chris Rogers 16
Abdur Rehman 2/3

Australia A lead by 136 runs with one day remaining.

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