Ravindra Jadeja is once again the world's number one Test all-rounder after his stunning performance against Sri Lanka in Mohali.

Jadeja scored a career-best unbeaten 175 and took match figures of 9-87 as India hammered the tourists by an innings and 222 runs in the first Test at the PCA Stadium.

The 33-year-old's exploits moved him above team-mate Ravichandran Ashwin and West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder to top the rankings.

Holder, currently in action in the first Test against England in Antigua, slips to second and Ashwin is third.

Jadeja was named man of the match for a third time in Mohali after tormenting Sri Lanka.

Virat Kohli is up two places to fifth in the batting rankings after making 45 in his 100th Test - and his first since stepping down as India captain.

Australia run machine Marnus Labuschagne remains the top-ranked batsman in the world, with his captain Pat Cummins still the number one bowler.

A memorial service to honour the life of Shane Warne will be staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30.

Australia legend Warne died at the age of 52 last Friday after suffering a suspected heart attack while on holiday in his villa on the Thai island of Koh Samui.

Tributes poured in from all over the world for a sporting icon, who took a remarkable 708 Test wickets during a 15-year career – second only to Muttiah Muralitharan.

Warne's family accepted the offer of a state funeral, and Victoria premier Dan Andrews on Wednesday confirmed a service will be held at the cricketer's home ground.

"There's nowhere in the world more appropriate to farewell Warnie than the 'G," Andrews wrote on Twitter.

"Victorians will be able to pay tribute to Shane and his contribution [to] our state, and his sport, at a memorial service at the MCG on the evening of March 30th."

Flowers, cricket shirts, photographs and beer have been left where Warne's statue stands at the MCG.

The Great Southern Stand at the famous ground will be renamed to the S. K. Warne Stand in tribute to the late, great spinner.

Pat Cummins says Mitchell Swepson could finally make his debut when Australia face Pakistan in the second Test in Karachi.

Swepson earned a first call-up in 2017 but has not yet played for his country in the longest format.

The leg-spinner may get a long-awaited chance at the National Stadium after Australia only took four wickets in a drawn series-opening run-fest at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

When asked if Swepson will come into the team, captain Cummins said: "Potentially. I think we'll have a look before making up our mind.

"I think it is an asset for sure having a wrist spinner. It's something a bit different, and Sweppo has been bowling beautifully. We'll get to Karachi and have a look. But absolutely, Sweppo as a wrist spinner is a huge chance if we play two."

Cummins stated that he felt the wicket in Rawalpindi had been produced with the aim of nullifying the tourists' pace attack.

The fast bowler says Australia potentially should have gone with two spinners for first Test but does not believe the result would have been different if they had.

"I think it may have been helpful [in Rawalpindi], but I don't think it would have made too much of a difference," he said.

"Here you probably expected more up-and-down bounce and reverse swing, which lends more support to the fast bowlers rather than spinners.

"Our intel from Karachi and Lahore says a second spinner is probably the way to go. But we'll have a look."

The second Test gets under way on Friday.

Jonny Bairstow scored a fine century to lift England on day one of the first Test with West Indies.

Having won the toss and elected to bat in Antigua, it looked like being an all too familiar tale for a frequently fragile England line-up.

The tourists' top order collapsed to leave England 48-4 inside 16 overs, however, Bairstow (109 not out) led the rebuilding effort to ensure they got valuable first-innings runs on the board.

It was his eighth century in the longest format and first against the Windies, his success in surviving the first 10 overs with the second new ball meaning England are well placed to put themselves in an even more favourable position on day two after reaching 268-6 at stumps.

Such a scenario appeared unlikely when Kemar Roach quickly removed debutant Alex Lees (4) and opening partner Zak Crawley (8) was caught behind off Jayden Seales.

England looked in dire straits after Joe Root (13) was caught in two minds and bowled by Roach, with Dan Lawrence failing to build on a start as he went for 20 caught at second slip off Jason Holder.

The foundation for England's response was laid by Bairstow and Ben Stokes (36), who put on 67 before the latter thick-edged Seales on to leg stump, with Ben Foakes then adding 42 in his first Test since last year's tour of India in a sixth-wicket stand of 99.

Foakes was pinned lbw to break that partnership but the wicket of Bairstow, who deviated superbly between attack and defence in facing 216 balls, consistently punishing wide deliveries, proved elusive.

There were shades of the SCG in January as he wildly celebrated a richly deserved century and, with Bairstow and Chris Woakes (24 not out) bringing up a 50 partnership in the final over, England's hopes of gaining a better result than the draw they claimed in Sydney will be increasing.

Bairstow is England's glue once again

Having missed England's fifth Test with Australia in Hobart, Bairstow made it back-to-back hundreds in the longest format by following up his Sydney effort with another shining performance.

Sustained partnerships have been tough to come by for England in recent times, but when they have put them together, Bairstow has often been involved. Indeed, five of the last seven 50 partnerships for England have included Bairstow.

Windies face brick wall

The Windies would have hoped to make inroads with the second new ball in the final overs of the day. They failed to do so. The last 10 overs saw England add 33 runs without loss, and there will surely be concern among the hosts over how they let a seemingly dominant position slip.

Pat Cummins believes a placid pitch at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium was prepared in order to nullify the Australia pace attack after Pakistan piled on the runs in a drawn first Test.

The tourists only took four wickets in the opening match of the series before the two sides shook hands in the final session on day five with Pakistan 252 without loss.

Babar Azam's side had racked up 476-4 declared in their first innings and it was another gruelling day for Australia in the field on Tuesday.

Abdullah Shafique (136 not out) scored a maiden Test hundred and Imam-ul-Haq (111no) became only the second Pakistan player to make two centuries in a match.

Shafique and Imam cashed in after Australia were all out for 459 in the morning session on the last day, with Nauman Ali taking a career-best 6-107.

Cummins felt the fast bowlers never stood much of a chance of making inroads.

The Australia captain said: "Turning up to a pitch that's probably not a traditional pitch you would get here in Rawalpindi, and it's probably clear they've made an effort to try and nullify the pace bowling.

"I think that's a positive. And, subcontinent conditions, coming away with a draw it's not a bad result."

Cummins is not concerned about the lack of potency Australia showed as they turn their attention to the second Test, which starts at the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday.

"I thought the Pakistani batters batted really well the whole game. Got themselves in and then once they got themselves in they were able to just tick over the score," the quick said.

"We'll spend the next couple days reviewing it having a look at maybe different plans ahead of Karachi, expecting probably different conditions as well.

"I think we all tried different things. I think all the quick bowlers, although we've spent the best part of three days out in the field, I think we've all bowled around about 25, maximum 30 overs each, which in comparison to a lot of Australian Test matches is actually a pretty light workload.

"Didn't get a huge look at reverse swing this Test, but that might come into it later on. But I was really happy with how everyone went and everyone's come through unscathed."

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq made his second century of the match and Abdullah Shafique scored a maiden Test hundred as the first Test against Australia was inevitably drawn.

Australia were all out for 459 in reply to Pakistan's 476-4 in the morning session on day five, Nauman Ali taking career-best figures of 6-107.

The tourists were then made to toil again on a placid pitch at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, where Pakistan were 252-0 when the two sides shook hands.

Imam (110 not out) had not reached three figures in a Test before he was recalled for this match, but the left-hander helped himself to one in each innings with a controlled knock.

It was also a special day for the elegant Shafique (136no), who cashed in on such batting-friendly conditions to score his first hundred in only his third Test.

Australia added only 10 runs after resuming on 449-7 with the game drifting towards a draw, Nauman striking twice and Shaheen Shah Afridi seeing the back of Mitchell Starc.

Pakistan's openers were licking their lips as they walked to the middle and duly piled on the runs, putting 76 on before taking lunch.

They continued in serene fashion in the afternoon session, moving to 191 without loss with Shafique on 99 at tea before tucking Cameron Green off his pads for a single for his hundred.

Imam would have been out caught by Marnus Labuschagne at short leg for 94 off Nathan Lyon if Pat Cummins had reviewed for a catch and he capitalised on that stroke of luck, launching Travis Head over the top for two to reach his century.

The game was brought to an end after an over from Usman Khawaja and the two sides will head to Karachi for a second Test that starts on Saturday.

 

Imam and Shafique forge a formidable stand

The Australia bowlers will already have seen more than enough of Imam and Shafique five days into the three-match series.

Imam crafted a brilliant 157 in the first innings and became only the 10th Pakistan player to score a hundred in both knocks, making up for lost time in a manner in which he could only have dreamed of.

Shafique will feel he had missed out when he was dismissed for 44 in the first innings, but he made the most of a flat surface on the final day, hitting 15 fours and a six. Imam cleared the rope twice and struck seven fours.

 

The joy of six for Nauman 

Only one player has taken more wickets in a men's Test innings at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium than Nauman Ali's haul of six, that man being Mohammad Zahid (7-66) against New Zealand in November 1996.

The left-arm spinner saw the back of Australia captain Cummins and finished Australia's innings by trapping Nathan Lyon leg before after Afridi pinned Starc in front.

Afridi claimed 2-88, with Sajid Khan and Naseem Shah having taken the other wickets.

Australia protected a likely draw in the first Test against Pakistan as the tourists batted out day four in Rawalpindi to close to within 27 runs.

A remarkable collapse from one side or the other is now required on Tuesday to deliver a winner, with the batsmen continuing to dominate in the opener of a three-match series.

Australia resumed 205 back on Pakistan's first innings' 476-4 declared and steadily closed that gap over the course of the day.

Steve Smith spent much of Monday at the crease, albeit he added only 54 more runs to reach 78 from 196 balls.

Indeed, Australia seemed happy to wear out the Pakistan bowlers ahead of a second Test that is likely to have a greater say in the outcome of the series, largely limiting their errors having had eight wickets in hand in their first innings at the start of play.

Marnus Labuschagne (90) put on 108 for the third wicket with Smith but was denied a third Test century against Pakistan by excellent bowling and equally good fielding, caught at slip by Abdullah Shafique off Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Travis Head did not last long in Labuschagne's place, but Cameron Green stuck around and picked up the pace slightly after tea before paying the price for his ambition with a top edge off an attempted sweep to go for 48.

Smith gloved behind attempting a similar shot and Naseem Shah beautifully bowled Alex Carey (19), yet Pakistan's improved bowling late in the day failed to breathe life into the Test.

Green leaves runs out there

Labuschagne was undone by excellent play from Pakistan, but Green really had only himself to blame, getting too much on his shot from a relatively uncomplicated Nauman Ali delivery and giving Iftikhar Ahmed a simple catch.

As the bowlers toiled on a tough pitch, this was an opportunity missed for Green, who with a little more care could have followed his first fifty in his previous Test against England with a first outside of Australia.

Little to separate sides again

Australia have been away from Pakistan for over 23 years, but you would not know it looking at the outcome of this match. Ten of the previous 17 Tests between the sides in Pakistan have ended in draws – and this match will surely make it 11 in 18.

England seamer Ollie Robinson has been ruled out of the first Test against West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

Robinson is struggling with a back spasm and has not recovered in time to play in Antigua.

The uncapped Saqib Mahmood has taken Robinson's place in a 12-man squad for the opening game in a three-match series.

Mark Wood had been feeling unwell this week, but the paceman has been included in the squad.

With James Anderson and Stuart Broad overlooked for the tour, the likes of Craig Overton and Mahmood will be determined to make their mark.

The tourists will name their side at the toss on Tuesday as they attempt to restore some pride following a 4-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.

 

England squad for the first Test:

Joe Root (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Shane Warne brought a "Hollywood" magic to cricket and belonged to the same sporting superstar bracket as NBA legend Michael Jordan, according to an old Ashes adversary.

Former England paceman Angus Fraser described Warne as "a magician" of a bowler, a leg-spinner who was "in complete control" of his art.

Speaking to Stats Perform, in the wake of Warne's death at the age of 52 on Friday, Fraser said the man who was so often the scourge of England did "untold good" for the sport.

Warne took 708 Test match wickets, a total beaten only by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, and his effervescence and skill level made him a player who transcended cricket.

"He did bring Hollywood to cricket, didn't he?," Fraser said.

"Sat next to Shane Warne, he always had a ball in his hand. He was just going through his ball, the different balls. So like the leg-spinner, the googly, the flipper.

"The control he had over a cricket ball, you just sat there thinking, this guy's a magician. I mean, he's just throwing the thing up, and it just lands straight in his hand while he's talking to you, and he was just in complete control of what he was doing, so the skill level of the man was just beyond belief, really.

"Every ball was an event, that was the thing as well. It was theatre. You stood there at the end of his run-up and then boom. You watched when he had the ball in his hand because you just thought anything is possible, anything could happen.

"Not just a great cricketer, one of the greatest cricketers in the world, he's one of the great sportsmen in the world. He's up there with Michael Jordan and people like that.

"That's the sort of level where he's at, so that's the impact he had on the game. The way he's gone about it, yes, he's made mistakes and, yes, sometimes he's been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. But he's just done untold good for the game of cricket."

Warne's death was a jolt to the global cricket community. The man who became a popular pundit after his playing career ended passed away while on holiday in Thailand, of a suspected heart attack.

Fraser was left stunned, saying: "These things don't happen to Shane Warne, do they? I mean, yes, we know he's got a lifestyle and an existence that is just unimaginable, dashing around the world, but it doesn't happen to Shane.

"I mean, he's sort of bulletproof, he's a force of nature. He's just a character that you can kick and knock down, but he always gets back up and comes back, and is there as bold as brass and as confident and as full of energy in life as he's ever been."

Warne's career was full of highs and some notable lows, including being stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy after a phone sex scandal, and being banned for failing a drugs test, having taken a banned diuretic. He became engaged to actress and model Liz Hurley, and although they later split, Warne's life was for many years spent in the glare of the media spotlight.

Fraser said: "Whether you've played against him or whether you've just followed him as a cricket supporter, his life has been led out there in the open, so I think it's inevitable that everybody feels it because you've seen him make his mistakes, you've seen these wonderful moments, you just know so much about the man. It's hard to believe that there's that much hidden, because it's just all been out there in the newspapers or on the televisions in front of us."

Usman Khawaja was able to put the disappointment of missing out on a Test century against the country of birth into perspective after being dismissed for 97 on day three of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia.

Opener Khawaja was born in Islamabad, less than half an hour's drive from Pindi Cricket Stadium where he shone for Australia on Sunday.

Khawaja appeared on the verge of his 11th century in the longest format as Australia responded superbly to Pakistan's first innings' 476-4 declared.

But impatience perhaps got the better of Khawaja as he contributed to his own downfall, misjudging a reverse sweep and gloving Nauman Ali to Imam-ul-Haq at forward short-leg, with Aleem Dar forced to overturn his original not out decision following a review.

Khawaja's contribution, along with half-centuries from David Warner (68) and Marnus Labuschagne (69 not out), took the tourists to 271-2 – trailing by 205 runs when bad light stopped play.

"It's disappointing," Khawaja said of his failure to reach three figures. "Cricket is a funny game. Three runs – you bat so well for 97 and then you get out. You don't get a hundred, you come back in the changing room and it probably feels worse than getting a 20 in some respects.

"It's a bizarre feeling. Yeah, I would love to get a hundred out here. Rawalpindi, Islamabad – where I grew up.

"I think it would have brought a lot of joy. But at the same time, I think mum, dad, Rachel, my wife, would have loved me being out there.

"I was having a lot of fun. I was enjoying playing. To put it in perspective, I wasn't even in an Australian team a few months ago. So I'm very grateful to be here. I'm happy that I contributed to the team."

Khawaja made his return to the Australia side for the first time since 2019 for the fourth Test of the Ashes in January and scored a century in each innings in a man-of-the-match performance.

And after backing up that display with another of high quality and some fortune – twice Pakistan dropped potential catches of Khawaja – he added: "I felt really good today.

"I felt mentally in a really good spot coming into it, I guess. Probably because I've been out of the system. I've been out of Cricket Australia for two years. And now it's not the be-all and end-all anymore.

"I've been in and out of the team so much. I've been dropped. It doesn't matter. I just play the way I want to play. I just think of it as if I'm playing club cricket or Shield cricket back home. And that's how I take it for Australia now.

"Obviously, I'm a Muslim. I believe in God. I trust what happens. Good or bad, you have to take it equally. A lot of good things have happened in my life. Sometimes you want certain things to go a certain way and they don't happen. I think you just have to accept that and move on, and take the good with the bad. I'm very grateful."

Ravindra Jadeja fed off the "positive vibes" at his "lucky ground" to star with bat and ball in India's crushing victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test.

India hammered the tourists at the PCA Stadium, wrapping up their fifth-biggest win in the longest format by an innings and 222 runs on day three.

Jadeja was outstanding in Mohali, making a Test-best 175 not out in India's 574-8 declared before tormenting Sri Lanka with his left-arm spin.

The all-rounder took 5-41 and 4-46 as Dimuth Karunaratne's side were bowled out for 174 and 178 in their first and second innings respectively on Sunday.

Jadeja's exploits earned him a third man-of-the-match award at a venue that has been such a happy hunting ground for him.

"This is my lucky ground," he said. "Whenever I come here, I always get positive vibes.

"When you perform like this, you feel very confident. I haven't done anything differently with my batting, just backing my instincts. I try to settle down and after that I play my shots. I try to keep it simple."

Rohit Sharma did not envisage India making such light work of winning his first Test as captain.

He said "It was a good start. I never thought it was going to be that kind of Test that gets over in three days. It was a good batting wicket with help for spinners and seamers.

"Credit to our bowlers who bowled in tandem and applied pressure. We knew it is a fast outfield and runs would be easier to come if you dig in. We were just waiting for an odd one to bounce differently and their batters to make mistakes."

Ravichandran Ashwin took 4-47 in the second innings to move second on the list of India's leading Test wicket-takers with 436 ahead of the great Kapil Dev.

It was the perfect response to India's series defeat in South Africa and a fitting way to mark former skipper Virat Kohli's 100th Test.

Rohit added: "Good signs for Indian cricket, a lot of performances and a landmark Test for Virat. We wanted to first win the game and such individual performances were heartening to see.

"It was the team's decision and Jadeja's decision on the declaration. It shows how selfless he is."

Usman Khawaja fell three runs shy of a century as Australia produced a superb top-order performance on day three of the first Test against Pakistan.

Responding to Pakistan's first innings' 476-4 declared and resuming on five without loss, Khawaja's 97, along with half-centuries from David Warner (68) and Marnus Labuschagne (69 not out), took the tourists to 271-2 - trailing by 205 runs when bad light stopped play.

It means Australia, playing with heavy hearts following the sudden passing of legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne on Friday, are in an excellent position to at least claim a draw.

The Islamabad-born Khawaja and Warner laid the foundations, combining for a stand of 156, the second-highest opening partnership in Test history in Rawalpindi.

Both Khawaja and Warner played in attacking fashion, the former's half-century coming off just 67 balls. Warner's came in 86, but he was undone when he attempted to go square through the off side and missed a Sajid Khan delivery that careered into middle stump.

His exit did not open the floodgates as Pakistan might have hoped, but they did at least prevent Khawaja from recording an 11th Test hundred.

Khawaja contributed to his own downfall as he got a reverse sweep all wrong, gloving Nauman Ali to Imam-ul-Haq at foward short-leg, with Aleem Dar forced to overturn his original not out decision following a review.

Yet, with Labuschange and Steve Smith (24 not out) surviving until the fading light forced the players off, Australia have two batters who are among the most difficult in world cricket to dislodge set at the crease, a sign that is, for Pakistan, as ominous as the gloom that stopped proceedings.

Khawaja and Warner narrowly miss out on history

Only Mark Taylor and Michael Slater (176) have linked up for a higher first-wicket stand than Khawaja and Warner in Rawalpindi, that duo excelling in October 1994 in a match that ultimately ended in a draw. The same result looks likely again here after Khawaja and Warner narrowly missed out on surpassing their compatriots.

Labuschagne to let loose?

Pakistan will have painful memories of their previous two encounters against Labuschagne, which saw him score 185 at Brisbane and then 162 at Adelaide in 2019. He looks in the kind of form to deliver another massive score.

Ravindra Jadeja's remarkable performance in the first Test against Sri Lanka moved to another level on day three as India swiftly wrapped up their fifth-biggest win in the format.

India had led by 466 runs at the close of play on the second day, with Jadeja scoring an unbeaten 175 as the hosts declared on 574-8.

And Sri Lanka never threatened to make the all-rounder bat again – chiefly due to his brilliance with the ball.

The tourists, resuming on 108-4, were all out for 174 and forced to follow-on as Jadeja took 5-41.

An inspired Jadeja then claimed 4-46 in Sri Lanka's second innings, which concluded on 178 in the third session – India's victory by an innings and 222 runs illustrating the gulf between the teams.

Jadeja had already removed Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne on day two and soon accounted for Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando and Lahiru Kumara in a sublime spell.

Pathum Nissanka made 61 not out as his team-mates departed one by one.

And there was precious little improvement when Sri Lanka returned to the crease for their second innings, with Dickwella this time the man lacking support as he made an unbeaten 51.

There was no 10-wicket haul for Jadeja, as Ravichandran Ashwin (4-47) took the final wicket of Kumara with Sri Lanka all out in 60 overs.

Jadeja just too good with bat and ball

Having scored the highest total by an Indian number seven and then snared an early wicket, Jadeja must have thought day two was just about as good as it was going to get. He was wrong.

Jadeja took eight of the 16 wickets on Sunday, with four of them going for ducks to secure sensational match figures of 9-87.

Ashwin achievement overshadowed

Such was Jadeja's dominance, there was little chance of him sharing the spotlight. But this was a special day for Ashwin, too, even before his dismissal of Kumara clinched victory.

His previous wicket, of Charith Asalanka for 20, was his 435th in Test cricket, taking him clear of Kapil Dev into second on India's all-time list. Only Anil Kumble (619) is ahead of Ashwin.

Ben Stokes believes he let both himself and England down during the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.

The all-rounder, who averaged only 23.60 with the bat and took four wickets, said Joe Root’s side have taken some "hard lessons" from the chastening defeat Down Under.

Stokes helped to salvage a draw with a half-century in both innings in the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but England suffered a brutal series hammering.

The vice-captain, who returned in Australia following a break to protect his mental health while also recovering from a finger injury, is determined to make amends in the upcoming series against West Indies.

"Looking back on Australia, we've had some honest reflections not only as a team but individuals as well," the 30-year-old said.

"I personally felt I let the team down with more than just performances, I would have liked to have been in better physical shape.

"When I look back on it, I felt I let myself down, but the thing that really grinds me the most and hurts me the most is that I let a lot of other people down and I never want to feel that way again. 

"Everyone's taken some good hard lessons from Australia."

England travelled to the Caribbean without legendary bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, while head coach Chris Silverwood lost his job after the drubbing in Australia.

Stokes is fully behind captain Joe Root and says there is no point discussing the absence of Anderson and Broad.

"It's not all on the captain. Joe is 100 per cent the man to lead this team forward, and I'll be right behind him every step of the way,” he added.

"There's obviously been a big change with Stuart and Jimmy [being dropped,] but, with all due respect to them, they're not here and what we can concentrate on are the guys who are, and the opportunity they now have.

"We have made a real effort to make sure that from the top, the most experienced guy, Joe, to the guys who haven’t even played yet, we are valued just as much as each other. 

"When it comes to guys who are about to make their debut or haven't played much, there is that extra responsibility on the senior guys to help them through that.

"I don't see it as a negative whatsoever. The only thing for us now is [to be] positive, because there were a lot of negatives in Australia and it was a s*** place to be."

The first Test in the three-match series against West Indies start in Antigua on Tuesday.

Azhar Ali piled on the runs for Pakistan before falling just short of a double century as the hosts dominated day two of the first Test against Australia.

This has been a tough start to the three-match series for Australia, with Pakistan totting up 245-1 on day one, followed by the jarring news of Shane Warne's death.

On Saturday, Pakistan kept Australia in the field for a long time once again, declaring on 476-4 shortly before stumps and imposing a stranglehold on the contest.

Azhar reached 185 before attempting an ambitious reverse sweep and paying a high price for failing to make the intended powerful contact, an unexpected misstep.

Rather than sending the ball soaring over the in-field, Azhar looped up a top edge to Cameron Green at short third man to give part-time spinner Marnus Labuschagne a prized wicket.

It made for a disappointing end to a stellar knock from the 37-year-old Azhar, whose 19th Test century proved to be the fourth highest of his Pakistan career.

He had been 64 not out overnight and reached three figures by taking on Nathan Lyon, just about clearing the leg-side field with a blow that was not quite middled but nevertheless raced away to the boundary.

Imam-ul-Haq had earlier advanced from his overnight 132 not out to 157 before he was pinned lbw by Australia captain Pat Cummins, a review only confirming the obvious.

Labuschagne ran out home captain Babar Azam for 36 with a direct hit, after a chancy attempted single, but it was another day to forget for the tourists, who reached 5-0 from one over before bad light ended proceedings.

Azhar puts Pakistan in pole position

This was a special innings from the Pakistan veteran, falling just short of the 205 not out he scored in the first innings in Melbourne in December 2016, which remains his highest score against Australia. Remarkably, Australia still managed to pull off an innings victory in that match, but such a prospect seems highly improbable this time.

Azhar, whose latest innings contained 15 fours and three sixes, also belongs to the exclusive club of players with a Test triple century, having made an unbeaten 302 against West Indies six years ago in Dubai.

Putting the pitch in perspective

It should become clear on Sunday whether this was a match-defining effort by Pakistan, or whether the pitch is likely to result in a high-scoring stalemate. It was frustrating to the home side that they could only get in one over at the Australian openers before the umpires called a halt to the action.

Pakistan have won seven of their last eight men's Tests including their last three on the bounce, with only India (8) picking up more wins in the format than Pakistan (7) since the beginning of 2021.

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