47th over: Pakistan 154-4 (Asad 57, Iftikhar 7) Hazlewood beats Iftikhar’s outside edge and is so excited at the sight he bellows hard and long for a catch behind. The problem is he’s the only man appealing and the umpire’s index finger remains curled in his fist. Decent over from the big paceman though, operating as best he can stump-to-stump with a legside field.
46th over: Pakistan 150-4 (Asad 57, Iftikhar 3) Pakistan get busy against Lyon, the two right-handers using their feet and wrists to good effect to keep the scoreboard moving. The pick of an eight-run over is a swept boundary from Asad.
45th over: Pakistan 142-4 (Asad 50, Iftikhar 2) Starc’s brief and unconvincing spell is ended by the recall of Hazlewood, who is immediately in the thick of things. A rank short ball is helped around the corner by Asad but it’s perilously close to Paine’s dive, the third near-miss of that variety this session. That boundary takes Asad to 49 and by the end of the over he’s 50, raising his bat modestly for the 25th time in Tests.
44th over: Pakistan 137-4 (Asad 45, Iftikhar 2) Tight over from Lyon, accompanied by plenty of chat among the Australian fielders. There’s been a welcome rise in intensity over the past 20 minutes or so.
43rd over: Pakistan 136-4 (Asad 44, Iftikhar 2) Lovely shot for three from Asad who leans elegantly into a cover drive that is well stopped in the shadow of the sponsor’s hoarding by Nathan Lyon. He picks up three more to the same fielder in the same square footage of Adelaide Oval to round the over out, this time off the back foot. Starc is still yet to fully fire in this spell, perhaps still hampered his rolled ankle yesterday evening.
42nd over: Pakistan 129-4 (Asad 38, Iftikhar 1) Lyon thinks there’s a chance of a second quick wicket but Warner is wrong-footed at leg-slip and the ball passes him in the air. The signal is leg-byes though so it didn’t matter. Otherwise Pakistan are happy to defend their stumps and accept the occasional single.
41st over: Pakistan 126-4 (Asad 37, Iftikhar 1) The wicket brings spearhead Starc immediately back into the attack but the big paceman is slow to get up to full speed and it’s an unimpressive over largely of looseners.
Brian Withington has dropped in to the the drop-in debate. “I’m liking Andy’s suggestion of tailored drop in pitches – maybe these could include a worn day 5 option? I’m reminded of the story of some of the coconut matting wickets used on the sub-continent back in the day. Apparently touring sides suspected that the tension was adjusted between innings to favour the home team spinners. Bring back the classic sticky dog uncovered wickets, I say – with sprinkler attachments.” Within reason, Brian, within reason…
WICKET! Shan c Starc b Lyon 68 (Pakistan 123-4)
Wahey! That was a splendidly timed previous entry. The increasingly assured Shan Masood has just dumped a mistimed drive straight down Mitchell Starc’s throat at mid-off. Nathan Lyon has a wicket, Australia have a gift, and Pakistan relinquish their hard-earned initiative.
39th over: Pakistan 123-3 (Shan 68, Asad 35) That’s the 100 partnership for Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq, and it is one that is looking increasingly assured.
38th over: Pakistan 117-3 (Shan 67, Asad 33) Asad has some craft at the crease and he shows his deftness to work Lyon for three down to fine-leg. Australia still going through the motions with a lack of intent.
37th over: Pakistan 114-3 (Shan 67, Asad 30) Labuschagne remains in the attack. “Not sure Australia should be persisting with this bowling partnership,” remarks Damien Fleming on the telly. By contrast, Pakistan are quite happy with the current state of affairs, and they advance their score by four singles in an over lacking incident.
36th over: Pakistan 110-3 (Shan 65, Asad 28) A bit more life in Lyon’s first over after drinks, one featuring a couple of optimistic appeals for bat-pad catches. Asad and Shan prevail though as they have all afternoon so far.
35th over: Pakistan 106-3 (Shan 64, Asad 25) For the second day in a row Marnus Labuschagne’s part-time legspin is called upon early in the piece. His opening over is serviceable but unlikely to cause Pakistan any sleepless nights.
Drinks arrive on the field with Australia facing some awkward questions.
34th over: Pakistan 104-3 (Shan 63, Asad 24) A relieved Lyon enjoys a rare rapid maiden that caused Asad some discomfort.
Andy’s back to keep the conversation about drop-ins going. “You may be right regarding pitches; can’t put the chicken back in the egg and all that. So maybe the push should be to make drop in pitches with variation – maybe a different character for each venue? What we have may be functional but it is so obviously not perfect. Maybe CA should hint that they would be open to procuring pitches from someone who can develop something a little less “samey”? Or even fund some R&D to make a better product? They themselves would be the beneficiaries after all; better viewing spectacle, better attendance, better for skill development for both Shield and the international team. So JH, you with me? Let’s get into them and tell them to pull out their cheque book for improved drop-ins!”
Ha! I like the passion Andy. To be fair to CA I think the standard of drop-ins is improving. For example, I think the MCG surface on Boxing Day this year should be the best we’ve seen in some time. Perth’s new drop-in is ok, and Adelaide’s hasn’t been that bad since the change. This one would be fine if was showing signs of deterioration.
33rd over: Pakistan 104-3 (Shan 63, Asad 24) 100 up for Pakistan and the milestone is achieved in nail-biting fashion. For the second time today Shan fails to connect with a pull and gloves down the legside, but for the second time today the ball flies agonisingly out of reach of Paine’s dive. Hazlewood is going through his full deck of variations now, slower balls, cutters, knuckle balls and bouncers. This is not a fun day to be a fast bowler.
32nd over: Pakistan 98-3 (Shan 57, Asad 24) Shan has scored freely off Lyon today and that pattern continues when he slaps a long-hop through point. He nurdles another single before Asad picks up the baton, sneaking a couple courtesy of another example of Australia’s lackadaisical fielding then smashing Lyon over long-off for four.
31st over: Pakistan 87-3 (Shan 52, Asad 18) Hazlewood provides an excellent measure of the conditions because he is so consistent on all surfaces around the world. Today his conventional line and length is so unthreatening Asad is able to watch the bowler’s arm come over, count the leaves on the Moreton Bay figs next to the scoreboard, lean forward with the full face of the bat presented and calmly jog two runs. An hour gone and Australia’s brains trust will be scratching their heads.
30th over: Pakistan 84-3 (Shan 51, Asad 16) After a sketchy few minutes to open the day Shan is now flying. He reaches his sixth Test 50 by stepping down and bullying Lyon through mid-on for four.
29th over: Pakistan 79-3 (Shan 46, Asad 16) Asad blocks a maiden over from Hazlewood. This could be a long couple of days in the field for Australia.
Andy in FNQ has joined in via email. “Saw the earlier comment regarding the lifeless pitch; think that this is far more of an issue than the ball. It is no accident that the Gabba is the best pitch in Australia; it’s because it doesn’t use a drop-in pitch. These blights on Australian cricket have been shown, summer after summer, to be identical, single paced, and far too durable. They don’t wear, and offer nothing for pace or spin. When are Australia’s major stadiums (with Cricket Australia’s support) going to stand up to the AFL and say centre wickets are coming back for good? Brisbane play at the Gabba without any issues on its centre wicket; time for the other venues to follow their great example!” An admirable sentiment Andy but I think that particular genie is out of the bottle never to return.
28th over: Pakistan 79-3 (Shan 46, Asad 16) Lyon sends down the ball of the day so far, ripping one past Shan’s outside edge that misses the bat by the width of a Higgs boson. Around that beauty Pakistan collect a couple of singles pretty straightforwardly.
27th over: Pakistan 77-3 (Shan 45, Asad 15) Tim Paine is really overcomplicating things this morning. Hazlewood begins his second over with an extra fielder on the legside, meaning there are four fielders either catching or saving one between square leg and mid-on. Guess what he sends down? That’s right, a long-hop wide of off stump that is dismissively cut to the third-man fence by Asad.
Over the past two days, save for that one spell of Starc’s under lights with the new ball, Australia have bowled and fielded very poorly. They’ll need to be better against New Zealand.
26th over: Pakistan 73-3 (Shan 45, Asad 11) Tighter from Lyon, getting some nice drift on his offies and tempting Asad into driving on the front foot. The batsman looks assured against the slow spin though, as you’d expect from a top-order Pakistani.
25th over: Pakistan 71-3 (Shan 44, Asad 10) Double change for Australia with Hazlewood replacing Cummins from the cathedral end. Shan is now determined to attack, regardless of who happens to be bowling, pulling firmly well in front of square to a short ball. Australia’s tactics to him so far today have been questionable – too short and straight – and Ricky Ponting on TV has had enough. What’s wrong with the top of off, he asks forlornly.
24th over: Pakistan 66-3 (Shan 39, Asad 10) Spin for the first time today with Lyon replacing Starc and giving Shan something new to consider from the river end. He spends all of three balls in a state of contemplation, then he skips down the track and deposits a testosterone fuelled six over the bowler’s head like it’s payday in the IPL not a 180-over vigil to scrape a draw. Tremendous fun.
23rd over: Pakistan 59-3 (Shan 33, Asad 9) It’s a battle of wills between the right-handers Cummins and Asad in these early exchanges. The bowler is finding a consistent line and length, keeping the batsman pinned to his crease, but Asad holds his nerve and finally drops the ball into a gap to collect his first run of the day. Following that wake-up call form Starc Shan is now motoring. He backs up his consecutive fours from the previous over with a lovely checked off-drive for two, then a glance off his hip for one more.
22nd over: Pakistan 55-3 (Shan 30, Asad 8) Starc again focuses on Shan’s stumps, and it almost pays dividends when the left-hander aims an uppish drive in the direction of the two catchers at short midwicket, but fortunately for Pakistan the stroke is so mistimed it doesn’t carry on the full. Shan is even more fortunate a couple of balls later when he gloves a pull down the legside that lands just wide of the diving Paine. It appears that let-off sparks something in the opener because he then smashes consecutive boundaries, both pulls through midwicket, the second of which is sweetly timed. A curious over.
21st over: Pakistan 45-3 (Shan 20, Asad 8) Cummins is proving difficult to get away with his angle into the right-handed Asad from over the wicket. The pressure almost induces an error when Asad under-edges a square cut in the direction of his stumps but there’ no harm done.
20th over: Pakistan 45-3 (Shan 20, Asad 8) Starc is persisting with that straight line of attack to Shan, preying on the batsman’s tendency to drive with a closed bat face. Despite a couple of catchers stationed in the same short midwicket region Shan still manages to work a couple of runs into the legside.
19th over: Pakistan 43-3 (Shan 18, Asad 8) Just the single to document from an over of Cummins deliveries on a tight line and length to Shan.
“If Australia were playing a more resilient opponent who also scored 400+ in an innings, would we be saying this is an awful pitch and something should be done about it?” asks Murray Henman. “I’m also wondering whether this question also applies to the Gabba?”
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This is a lifeless pitch that has shown little sign of deteriorating, exacerbated by a lifeless ball that has shown no indication it wants to travel any direction other than gun barrel straight. In defence of the Adelaide Oval curator he might have expected the pink ball to do much more under lights than it has, and therefore prepared a surface to even out the balance somewhat. But regardless, the outcome has been disappointing.
18th over: Pakistan 42-3 (Shan 17, Asad 8) Mitchell Starc with the first full over of the day, the left-armer loping in from the river end, targeting the left-handed Shan Masood’s stumps with a field inviting a tighter line than perhaps we’ve become accustomed to. Inevitably that means Starc leaks onto Shan’s pads and Pakistan work their first runs of the day through square-leg.
17th over: Pakistan 39-3 (Shan 14, Asad 8) Asad Shafiq props forward and defends the final ball from the Pat Cummins over that began yesterday evening. We are away!
The players are making their way out into the middle. Day four will be up and running imminently.
There’s some cricket happening just across the ditch too, where England have given themselves a sniff of an unlikely victory.
Do you want something meaty to chew on in the minutes leading up to the first ball of the day? Well, sink your teeth into this Geoff Lemon classic on David Warner’s 335.
Pitch: The Adelaide Oval surface has been dull for three days and there’s little indication that’s going to change today.
Missed what happened yesterday? Catch up on all the action, including Yasir Shah’s sparkling century, right here.
Weather: The good news is it’s dry in Adelaide and forecast to remain so for the rest of the day. However it is cool (top of 17C) and there is a gusty souwesterly keeping the flags afluttering on top of the famous old scoreboard.
Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of the fourth day of the second Test between Australia and Pakistan from Adelaide Oval.
Once again play will get underway half-an-hour earlier than scheduled to make up overs lost to rain. That means today’s session times are as follows (in AEDT): 2pm-4.30pm | 4.50pm-6.50pm | 7.30pm-9.30pm.
Australia will be disappointed if the match progresses deep into the floodlit portion of the day. Just seven Pakistan wickets are required to complete an innings victory, and with Babar Azam already dismissed, there is little to concern the hungry home attack. Although that may be being unfairly dismissive of first-innings centurion Yasir Shah, who was by some margin Sunday’s star performer.
As always, feel free to use this platform to have your say, or simply keep me entertained while I type into the void. You can find me on Twitter – @JPHowcroft– or by email – email@example.com.