Skipper Azhar Ali, lacking inspiration, needed his men to lift and show more pride on Saturday, but there was little joy. Then came another damning moment, when another teenage debutant, this time Muhammad Musa, had Warner snapped up at backward point.
However, hearts sunk when umpire Richard Illingworth gave the dreaded signal that, again, there had been no sign of the bowler’s front foot behind the popping crease.
Warner may have been on 226 by this point, and the contest well and truly out of Pakistan’s hold, but this reprieve still hurt – and highlighted the growing pains this new-look side was feeling.
“At the moment I am getting a little bit of luck [but] the last two innings I have played I have been very disciplined,” Warner noted when he left the field at tea.
Where Warner could have used that reprieve as a spark to launch at every delivery, he retained a disciplined, intense approach, even shouldering arms to full deliveries that he often has enjoyed pouncing upon. There was barely a play and miss, while his fitness – and desire for quick singles – appears to have even improved at age 33.
Before play, on a day when he would finish unbeaten on 335, behind only Matthew Hayden (380) for the highest Test score by an Australian, he spoke about a change in thought after a terrible Ashes campaign.
“I think you know very well that we can’t always try and throw the bat at everything. But I actually surprised myself the last Test and this Test with how disciplined I actually was,” he said on Seven.
“I knew coming into this Test with [Mohammad] Abbas coming back in that I was going to have to be nice and disciplined and leave well, and make sure that I’m leaving well on the front foot. I was able to do that [on Friday] and, hopefully, I can come out today and do the same thing.”
He backed up those words, becoming the first man to make a Test triple century in Adelaide, just as Pakistan backed up a horror day in the field with another. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s miserable record in Australia continued. He averages almost 90 runs per wicket here, compared to 30 for his overall career and 24.35 in Asia. He wasn’t helped by poor field placings but he bowled too straight, particularly to Warner, which did not allow the slip to come into play.
“He has been a big disappointment … his lines weren’t there, his lengths are wrong, especially to Warner,” Pakistan great Wasim Akram noted.
There is generally little to like about two-Test campaigns, for it can take three or four innings for a touring side to really feel comfortable and come to terms with the local conditions. But, going on what has been seen to date, it appears a good thing that this series is almost over.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.