Rain forced the players to withdraw twice on the second day at the MCG © AFP
Pakistan endured a day of frustration at the MCG, as light but persistent rain twice prevented them from pressing on with the game just when they seemed perfectly placed to do so.
Only 50.3 overs were possible on a day that first featured a three-hour break in play, from just before lunch, and then an early finish 20 minutes before the scheduled close. It was the first break, ten minutes before lunch, when the drizzle was at its mildest, which seemed to visibly annoy Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur the most.
Pakistan had negotiated an extended morning session until then without losing a wicket. Australia were on the verge of the second new ball at the time, though the decision to take it was made trickier by the risk of it getting wet on the outfield.
Australia captain Steven Smith was in communication with umpire Ian Gould during this little period and, though there is no suggestion the chat led to the decision to take an early break, it did halt the momentum Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had been building up.
The second break, which ended play, came just as Mohammad Amir had helped take away the momentum Australia had built with the new ball, adding 42 quick runs with Azhar.
“Obviously when the team is doing really good and something like this, the rain comes out, it is frustrating because we were going really well,” Wahab Riaz said. “We were scoring runs and it was a time to score runs.
“Anything which doesn’t go well for the Pakistan team [Arthur] does get frustrated obviously because he is the coach. But he has said nothing to me about it.”
With the forecast not looking brighter for the remainder of this Test, the chance for Pakistan to level the series is also dwindling. Pakistan will take their cue in the morning from the captain and coach, Wahab said, possibly trying to add a swift “70-80 runs”.
“We are still into our first innings and there aren’t many runs on the board yet,” he said. “We can’t ask Australia to bat straightaway. There are still three days remaining in the match and we know that we have to take 20 wickets.
“I am not sure how much we are going to need. It is the captain’s decision when to declare. Maybe we will look to score 70-80 more runs before putting Australia to bat and then we will try to get them out as cheaply as possible.”
Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo