Tea Pakistan 2 for 16 (Azhar 12*, Younis 0*) trail Australia 8 for 538 dec (Renshaw 184, Warner 113, Handscomb 110, Wahab 3-89) by 522 runs
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Coverdale: Handscomb continues impressive start
Peter Handscomb maintained his Test-match honeymoon phase with a second century to lift Australia to 538 before Pakistan lost a pair of early wickets to Josh Hazlewood prior to tea on day two of the SCG Test.
The hosts strode steadily towards an enormous first-innings tally against bowling that improved somewhat on the first day’s effort, though Pakistan were not helped by more indifferent fielding from the captain Misbah-ul-Haq down.
Pakistan’s untidiness extended into the start of their first innings, as the debutant Sharjeel Khan waved his bat at Hazlewood to be taken at slip, before Babar Azam missed a full, straight ball to be lbw in the same over. Azhar Ali, the Melbourne double-centurion, has again been left with much to do.
Matt Renshaw’s innings, which seems to have set him up for a long and fruitful Test career, was the highest by an opening batsman under the age of 21, and was only ended by a fine over from Imran Khan, who moved the left-hander across the crease before prompting him to drag onto the stumps.
Handscomb, meanwhile, did not allow himself to be frustrated by periods of slow scoring, utilising the sweep in particular to excellent effect – a good sign ahead of the tour of India. He survived a nervous period in the 90s to pass three figures on the same ground where he made a double century in the Sheffield Shield earlier this season to earn his Test spot.
Hilton Cartwright also showed patience, and showcased an organised technique with the exception of a couple of chances: a Yasir Shah leg break that beat him but also the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, and an edge off Azhar Ali’s part-timers that eluded Younis Khan at first slip.
There had been hope of Renshaw going past 200 when play began, and in the early overs it seemed there was little to stop him. It took Imran’s artful use of the crease and line to prompt the false stroke that brought his downfall, but he departed the ground with the applause of thousands ringing in his 20-year-old ears.
Cartwright arrived to face a first ball from Mohammad Amir, and stroked a full offering through cover with plenty of confidence. Thereafter he was somewhat becalmed and gave up the aforementioned chances, but a half-century stand in Handscomb’s capable company was a more than useful start.
After lunch, Handscomb reached the outskirts of his hundred before Cartwright was bowled by Imran; then, some quick scoring by Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc drew Steven Smith’s declaration. In the 15 minutes to the tea interval, Hazlewood had an impact, though Sharjeel’s technique was questionable to say the least.
Babar should also have been expected to keep out a ball that was full and straight but not really moving through the air or off the seam, evidence that the time in the field had left the visitors with heavy legs. There was time for one over of spin – from the recalled Steve O’Keefe – before the break.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo