Australia strike after Smith 165* secures 181-run lead

Lunch Pakistan 9 for 443 dec and 1 for 6 trail Australia 8 for 624 dec (Smith 165*, Warner 144, Khawaja 97) by 175 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Steven Smith hit 13 fours and a six during his 165 not out © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Pakistan lost an early wicket after Australia’s captain Steven Smith pushed the hosts to a 181-run lead on the final day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Smith was aided by a rapid-fire 84 from Mitchell Starc, which quickly built Australia’s lead, leaving Pakistan to survive a minimum of 68 overs to secure a draw. The hosts’ tally of 624 was the highest in all Test matches played at the ground.

In four overs before the interval, Pakistan lost the wicket of Sami Aslam, dragging a ball from Josh Hazlewood onto the stumps via his body. That breakthrough provided Australia with thoughts of forcing a possible victory – an extraordinary prospect given the amount of time lost to rain in this match.

Much of Pakistan’s bowling and fielding was lacklustre, personified by Sohail Khan’s wretched drop of Starc at long-off. Sohail finished with three wickets but was one of four expensive bowlers on what remains the flattest of pitches.

So quickly did Smith and Starc score that the home captain had the luxury of declaring before the interval, meaning the visiting openers were compelled to survive two bursts of the new ball either side of lunch.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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