Cricket 2019: Australia v Pakistan second Test


His seven for the match so far has taken his overall haul in pink-ball Test cricket to 33, the most by any bowler in the world and nine more than second-placed Josh Hazlewood.

For all the discussion about Starc’s supposed shortcomings over the years – from his body language to his consistency– his is the record of an undisputed wicket-taker. He owns one of the best 30 strike rates among all bowlers in Test history and among those who have 200 or more Test wickets to their name he is behind only Dale Steyn, Waqar Younis, Malcolm Marshall and Allan Donald in that category. Fair company.

Mitchell Starc takes the wicket of Azhar Ali just as the rain arrives at Adelaide Oval.Credit:Getty Images

Edging beyond 151kmh at his most rapid on Sunday, a significantly improved economy rate has accompanied Starc’s series-leading collection of wickets, which stands at 14.

Australia have no shortage of fast bowlers, with James Pattinson and Michael Neser in reserve, but Starc doesn’t want a break during the upcoming three-match series against New Zealand.

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“They might ask me but I’m not going to put my hand up for a rest,” he said. “We’ve got a squad full of fit bowlers but I can guarantee not one of us is going to put our hand up for a rest.”

Starc played down concerns about Tim Paine after the captain appeared to suffer a painful blow on a finger on Sunday.

“I’m not sure to be honest,” Starc said when asked about Paine. “I think he’s fine. Keepers don’t like to see the phsyios and that sort of thing.”

Pakistan started their second innings poorly when Imam-ul-Haq was lbw to Hazlewood for a duck and Azhar Ali was caught superbly by Steve Smith off Starc for nine. Hazlewood then had Babar caught by Paine for eight.

Australia’s charge towards victory was held up, however, by rain and earlier by a most unlikely century with the bat by Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

Yasir arrived in Australia with a Test batting average of less than 12 but showed he was not the mug those numbers suggested with a couple of handy contributions down the order in a heavily defeated team in Gabba.

A jubliant Yasir Shah celebrates his century at Adelaide Oval.

A jubliant Yasir Shah celebrates his century at Adelaide Oval.Credit:Getty

On Sunday, the 33-year-old produced the almost unthinkable with a gutsy 113, his maiden Test hundred, that triggered another memorable celebration from the charismatic leggie.

He twirled his bat over his head, leapt in the air in the fashion of David Warner, and took his gloves off and kissed the Adelaide Oval turf.

The Yasir-led fightback from 6-89 frustrated Australia, who eventually enforced the follow-on 30 minutes before dinner after the tourists were finally bowled out for 302.

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It was the first time in four years Australia had sent a team back in and reflected the enormous advantage they had built with Warner’s 335 not out steering them to 3-589 on Saturday.

Yasir’s performance left him with the unusual distinction of bringing up a hundred with both ball and bat in Adelaide, having endured a tough outing and finished with 0-197 as Warner went to town against him.

On Sunday, though, he demonstrated the kind of application that has abandoned most of Pakistan’s specialist batsmen in this series. The primary exception has been Babar Azam, who after a fine century in Brisbane fell to Starc for 97 in the first innings – the dismissal completed by another superb diving catch from Paine.

Yasir was on only 48 at the time and when Shaheen Afridi was lbw to Starc next ball Pakistan had only two wickets remaining. The next man in, Mohammad Abbas, survived Starc’s hat-trick ball, however, when a leading edge flew through an unmanned point, and he was able to hang around to get Yasir to his ton, adding 29 runs of his own.

Yasir didn’t have nine lives on Sunday, but he had three. The most glaring was when Marnus Labuschagne put down a sitter of a return catch when he was on 43. Paine also missed a stumping before Labuschagne, this time at short-leg, dropped him again on 106.

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