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02-Nov-2014 14:04:00 GMT
Pakistan v Australia, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi

Pakistan Close to Series Win After 20-years

Abu Dhabi: Misbah-ul-Haq's 56-ball century underlined the hosts' dominance as Australia keep six wickets in hand for the final day 

Pakistan need six wickets to complete their domination over Australia and secure the series sweep their play indicates they so thoroughly deserve.

Australia lost two wickets in the 13 overs they faced before tea, with David Warner (24) and Michael Clarke (2) the not out batsmen at the fourth day's tea break in Abu Dhabi. Australia are 2-36, chasing a target of 603.

Chris Rogers may now fear for his Test career after another failure here. He looked to turn Zulfiqar Babar around the corner but succeeded only in gloving it to leg-slip. His series has yielded innings of 38, 43, five and, today, two.

The Glenn Maxwell experiment at no.3 seems unlikely to be repeated after he failed to get bat on a skidding delivery from Zulfiqar. Given not out, Pakistan reviewed and he was gone for 4.

Therefore it seemed incredulous that first Warner and Maxwell would unveil their unorthodox range so early on. Facing his 13th ball, Warner changed his stance to switch hit Zulfiqar to the point boundary. Maxwell was nearly bowled attempting to reverse sweep Mohammad Hafeez from the eighth delivery he faced.

Zulfiqar's 2-12 from four overs at tea highlighted the contrast between these teams in dealing with the conditions. Australia's bowlers could only manage nine wickets for the entire match, suffering the indignity of a team declaring twice.

So at ease did Pakistan appear facing Australia's bowling, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq opted to open the floodgates in a record-breaking run feast.

In a desert storm lasting one exhilarating hour, Misbah blasted a weary and demoralised Australian attack to all parts of the Zayed International Stadium.

Pakistan’s skipper was out of the blocks quickly, hitting his first ball for four before surviving a dropped chance second ball as Peter Siddle failed to hold onto an opportunity off the bowling of Steve Smith.

Misbah then treated Smith with contempt, creaming him for 22 balls in one four-ball period before setting a new record for the fastest Test half-century, coming up in 21 balls and 23 minutes. It broke the previous record of 24 balls held by Jacques Kallis against Zimbabwe.

Interest then mounted as he neared ever closer to breaking Sir Vivian Richards' mark of 56 balls for the fastest Test century.

Australia’s bowlers continued to feed him run-scoring opportunities by bowling short. It took Peter Siddle to pitch it up for two dots balls and a single to ruin Misbah’s opportunity of breaking the record. However he was able to hit his next two balls, from Mitchell Starc, to the fence to equal Richards’ record.

Misbah finished 101 not out from 57 balls, with five sixes, 11 boundaries and only 13 dot balls.

When Azhar Ali completed his second century for the match, Pakistan declared on 3-293. The lead is 602, but more worrying to Australia will be the prospect of trying to survive at least 138 overs in more than four sessions.

Also troubling for the tourists will be the hip soreness that kept Mitchell Johnson off the field after lunch on the fourth day.

Johnson has bowled 75 overs throughout this two-Test series on flat, dead tracks which have offered nothing in the way of pace and bounce for him.

Glenn Maxwell kept wicket for Australia after lunch, offering a break for David Warner who kept throughout the morning session as Brad Haddin rested his injured right shoulder.

Haddin injured the AC joint diving for an edge in the sixth over of the second morning and will be assessed further when the team returns to Australia later this week. The injury will not prevent him batting in Australia's second innings should he be required.

Despite the Misbah mauling, Smith was Australia's only wicket-taker in the morning session, finally finding a chink in Younis Khan's amour with a top-spinner that skidded on.

Younis's dismissal for lbw on 46 took his series tally to 468 runs, at an average of 156. This was his only dismissal for less than a century following scores of 106, 103 not out and 213.

For Australia, it was another disappointing day in the field.

Starc misjudged a lofted driving running backwards, then slipped as he tried to correct his angle and the ball thudded safely into the turf.

Siddle dropped a catch off Smith's bowling, and 12th man Phillip Hughes robbed Mitchell Marsh of his first Test wicket by spilling a simple chance at gully.

Brief scores
Pakistan -
570 for 6 dec (Younis 213, Azhar 109, Misbah 101) & 293/3d (Misbah-ul-Haq 101*, Azhar Ali 100*)
Australia - 261 (Marsh 87, Imran 3-60) and 143/4 (Warner 58, Zulfiqur 3-65)
Status - Australia need 460 runs to win

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