Sharjah: Asad Shafiq geared up for the upcoming Test series against Australia by hitting a century in a four-day practice match between Pakistan 'A' and the tourists in Sharjah yesterday.
Skipper Shafiq was unbeaten on 108 and Ehsan Adil not out yet to score as Pakistan 'A' reached 305-8 on the first day at Sharjah stadium. Shafiq hit two boundaries off paceman Mitchell Johnson and another couple off Peter Siddle to reach his hundred off 148 balls. In all Shafiq hit 13 boundaries and four sixes and batted with authority against a varied Australian attack, so much needed for Pakistan's national squad after their batting flopped in the preceding 3-0 one-day series loss.
Shafiq, a regular member of Pakistan's Test team, added an invaluable 100 for the fifth wicket with Haris Sohail, who made a gutsy 43. The pair built on a 87-run third wicket stand between Ahmed Shahzad (55) and Babar Azam (40) as Pakistan's second string, who opted to bat after winning the toss, lost Shan Masood (six) and Israr Ullah (five) early.
Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe (3-76) was the pick of Australia's bowling attack which got a good workout before the first Test starting in Dubai from October 22. Siddle also picked Raza Hasan for five to finish with 2-61. Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Steve Smith took a wicket apiece under sultry conditions which tested the Australians.
Shafiq said it was important to bat well ahead of the Tests. "It wasn't a helpful pitch for the seam bowlers but I had planned to bat through the 90 overs and it was necessary for my self confidence because the amount of time you spend on the pitch will help you in the more important matches ahead," said Shafiq.
"I put myself in the Test scenario because the Australian bowlers will be the same in Tests, so it's good." The second Test will be played in Abu Dhabi from October 30-November 3. Australia won the only Twenty20 and then took the one-day series 3-0 on the tour.
Pakistan 'A' first innings 305-8 (Asad Shafiq 108 not out, Ahmed Shahzad 55, Haris Sohail 43, Babar Azam 40; S. O'Keefe 3-76, P. Siddle 2-61).
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