The other red-hot show

Updated: 05 December, 2019 07:23 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

David Warner smashed his way to an epic 335 not out in Adelaide, but Babar Azam and centurion Yasir Shah came up with knocks which also lit up the day-night Test

Australia's batsman David Warner celebrates his triple century on Day 2 of the second cricket Test match against Pakistan in Adelaide on November 30; (inset) Pakistan batsman Babar Azam (left) with teammate Yasir Shah (right). Pics/AFP
Australia's batsman David Warner celebrates his triple century on Day 2 of the second cricket Test match against Pakistan in Adelaide on November 30; (inset) Pakistan batsman Babar Azam (left) with teammate Yasir Shah (right). Pics/AFP

Clayton MurzelloAustralia's David Warner made the recent day-night Test his own with a spectacular, unbeaten 335 against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval.

If ever a current opening batsman was going to get a triple century it had to be Warner and he tore a weak Pakistan bowling attack to shreds.

Warner could well have gone on to become the first Australian Test batsman to score 400 and it would have been a great occasion in a city where Sir Donald Bradman spent the last years of his life.

West Indian legend Brian Lara, the only man to have a Test quadruple hundred to his name, was at the Adelaide Oval and was later quoted as saying that he would have been on the turf to congratulate Warner just like Sir Garfield Sobers did when Lara went past his 365 — against England at Antigua in 1994.

A heavyweight and a match-winning knock from Warner's blade notwithstanding, two other innings lit up the Adelaide Oval. Babar Azam's 97 was a splendid knock in adversity, coming in at 22 for two and taking just 132 balls to reach a situation where a boundary hit would have got him his well-deserved hundred, his second on the trot against the Australians. Babar enjoyed his share of luck during the innings but good fortune deserted him when he went for yet another expansive drive and was caught acrobatically by Australian skipper and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

At the other end, Yasir Shah, who had put on 105 for the seventh wicket with Babar, was determined to make an impression with the bat.

Leg-spinner Yasir endured a sheer unrewarding time with the ball, conceding 197 runs and returning to the dressing room wicketless when Australia declared at 589 for three. But Yasir is a good leggie and wrist spinners don't become good without a big heart.

On the way to the ground before the commencement of Day Three, Yasir was confident that Babar and he could come up with a big stand. In fact, he said, "I had planned to bat the
whole day and if I did that, I would score a hundred."

His visualisation was spot on, his preparation even better as he hit the nets. Later that day, he achieved his objective and got to his maiden first-class century.

It was thrilling to watch Yasir driving imperiously, pulling without fear and displaying fine footwork. And like Babar, he perished to a fine piece of athleticism — Nathan Lyon's sliding effort at deep backward square.

It's a pity Yasir couldn't replicate his first innings performance when Pakistan followed on but he made his mark on a ground whose honours board has now eight Pakistani Test centurions — Asif Iqbal, Zaheer Abbas, Mohsin Khan, Qasim Omar, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan Wasim Akram and himself.

Interestingly, tons from Asif and Zaheer, Mohsin, Umar and Javed before Imran and Wasim came in the same innings — in the 1976-77, 1983-84 and 1989-90 Tests respectively.

The efforts of Asif and Zaheer in 1976-77 denied Australia a victory and it was in this Test that Jeff Thomson busted his shoulder while clashing with fellow fielder Alan Turner in an effort to hold on to a catch offered by Zaheer. Greg Chappell, who was leading Australia then, admitted that his team feared that Zaheer would go on to score big like his double centuries in England in 1971 and 1974. Of Zaheer's dismissal, Chappell wrote in The 100th Summer: "Zaheer's exit was a bonus. He had become a very real thorn in our side and in reaching his 101 had thwarted our every effort for four hours."

Asif's century came after a duck in the first innings and Chappell had seen how rookie fast bowler Sikander Bakht had given the elegant batsman a hard time in the pre-play nets. "I might just as well get out of here," Asif told Chappell before the future Pakistan batsman scored 152. The draw in Adelaide was followed by an Australian victory in Melbourne and an Imran Khan-inspired win for Pakistan in Sydney.

The 1983-84 Test at Adelaide which saw centuries from Mohsin, Javed and Omar was witnessed by Mohsin's then wife — Indian actress Reena Roy, who watched the action from the Members' Stand. Umar who scored 113, enjoyed some luck. When on 52, Kepler Wessels held on to one at silly mid-on the previous evening but was quick to report that he held it on the half volley. Umar did not forget to thank Wessels on reaching his century. In Cricket in Australia 1983-84 annual, he was quoted as saying to Wessels: "Thank you for last night. Your attitude in this golden game proves great sportsmanship still exists. We have to do this to keep Test cricket alive."

In the 1989-90 Adelaide Test, second innings centuries from captain Imran and Akram gave Australia no joy. When Akram showed signs of attacking the bowling as he neared his century, the great Khan walked up to him and reminded him that there was a job to be done, a Test match to be saved. The young turk didn't want to disappoint his captain and he didn't to a large extent. When he was dismissed for 123 (by Greg Campbell, the uncle of Ricky Ponting) with Imran at the other end, Akram felt proud of what he had done.

However, he couldn't help marvelling his captain. "I wasn't used to the physical or mental demands of playing a long innings, yet there was Imran, at the age of 37, leading by example hour after hour," Akram wrote in his 1998 autobiography.

On Monday, Yasir became the first Pakistani batsman to see his century effort go in vain at an Adelaide Test. He can blame his failure with the ball and his pace bowling teammates. David Warner too.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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First Published: 05 December, 2019 07:11 IST

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