SYDNEY: Pakistan’s Younus Khan notched his 34th test century but Australia had reduced the tourists to 271 for eight, still 68 runs short of avoiding the follow-on, at close of play on the rain-disrupted third day of the third test on Thursday.
The evergreen 39-year-old right hander swept the ball to deep square leg for his 12th four in the first hour after tea to bring up his first test hundred in Australia and was unbeaten on 136 at stumps.
Tailender Yasir Shah will resume alongside him on day four on five not out but, weather permitting, Australia will still be confident of securing a 3-0 series sweep with a lead of 267 on the back of their first innings 538-8 declared.
Persistent rain sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean had prevented Pakistan from resuming on 126-2 until four hours after the scheduled start at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Younus had forged a 120-run third wicket stand with Azhar Ali to stall the Australians on Wednesday and the home side were desperate to break it.
The pace attack failed to do the job and ultimately it was a breakdown in communication between the batsmen that ended the key partnership on 146 runs.
Nathan Lyon had just come on to huge applause from a crowd largely bedecked in pink for Glenn McGrath’s breast cancer charity and Younus slapped the spinner’s second delivery past a close fielder and called for a run.
Azhar hesitated and was left stranded as Mitchell Starc swooped and hurled the ball to Peter Handscomb, who was standing in behind the stumps for the sick Matt Wade.
The 31-year-old Azhar was clearly disappointed to depart for 71 but might take comfort from the fact he had surpassed Mohsin Khan’s 33-year-old record for a Pakistan batsman in a test series in Australia.
Azhar’s 395 runs in five innings over three tests bettered the 390 Mohsin managed in five matches in 1983-84.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq departed shortly after tea, holing out in the deep for 18, and Asad Shafiq followed for four when Steve Smith, at slip, brilliantly caught a Steve O’Keefe ball that went off bat, pad and wicketkeeper’s thigh.
Younus had hammered a huge six over long-on to move to 98 and completed his century off 208 balls with Sarfraz Ahmed at the other end.
Sarfraz (18) lasted only until the new ball was taken and he almost immediately got a thick edge on a Starc delivery which flew to Jackson Bird at gully.
It was a second catch for Bird, who was dropped for this test but on as a substitute fielder for Wade after the wicketkeeper retired to the team hotel suffering from diarrhea.
As the evening shadows crept across the field, Lyon removed Mohammad Amir for four and Wahab Riaz for eight to finish with figures of 3-98.