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Azhar Ali became the first batsman from Pakistan to score a Test double-hundred in Australia © Getty Images

On a benign wicket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Azhar Ali and David Warner lit up the third day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and Pakistan with their respective centuries. For the first time in three days, the day was neither plagued by multiple rain interruptions nor lost crucial time to other causes. Batsmen from both teams took turns to have a crack at the bowlers, who increasingly grew frustrated over lack of assistance from the pitch as well as the conditions. Azhar became the first batsman from Pakistan to score a Test double-hundred in Australia, while Warner led his team’s reply when the opponents challenged by declaring at 443 for 9.

Azhar scored an unbeaten 205, becoming only the fourth visiting batsman to score a double-century at MCG. His innings was based on tremendous application, but Pakistan’s scoring rate remained extremely low, barring the first session on the third day. Pakistan added 123 runs in 22 overs in the morning session with Sohail Khan getting a career-best 65 off as many balls. Azhar added 57 runs to his overnight total of 139, and returned after lunch to get to his third double-hundred of career, and second in the year.

Live cricket scorecard: Australia vs Pakistan, 2nd Test at Melbourne

On the third day, a total of 411 runs were scored and only 5 wickets fell in about 83 overs. Let us take a look at the highlights:

Azhar Ali in record books: Azhar bettered as well as created a few records during his unbeaten double-hundred. He became the fourth visiting batsman in history to score a double century at MCG, and his score of 205 not out is now the highest for Pakistan in Australia. He consumed 364 deliveries, which is the third highest by any Pakistani against Australia in terms of balls faced.

Azhar fell just 4 runs short of breaking Viv Richards’ 32-year-old record of 208 runs, which remains the highest score by an overseas batsman in Tests at MCG. Azhar’s double-hundred is his third overall, and second in the year 2016. A few months ago, he had scored 302 not out against West Indies in Pakistan’s first-ever day-night Test. In May 2015, he had scored 226 against Bangladesh at Mirpur.

Australia vs Pakistan 2nd Test Day 4 preview and predictions

Sohail Khan’s onslaught: While Azhar crawled to his record innings, Sohail took the mantle of accumulating quick runs from Mohammad Aamer, who had raced to a 21-ball 28 on the second evening with 6 boundaries. Aamer was dismissed early on third day, having added only 1 to his overnight total, but Sohail did not let the tempo go down. He bettered his previous career-best of 40 with a six, and raced to a run-a-ball 65 hitting 6 boundaries and 3 more sixes. Sohail’s innings played a vital role in Pakistan getting close to a 450-run mark.

Pakistan’s strange declaration: When Wahab Riaz was dismissed off Josh Hazlewood, Misbah-ul-Haq called for declaration and Azhar walked off the field amid huge applause. While Azhar would have enjoyed this moment, it is not known whether he was aware of what all he missed. He was merely 4 short of setting a new record of highest score by a visiting batsman, and the way he batted, it can be asserted that there was a chance of him carrying his bat through the innings. Unfortunately for Azhar, Pakistan were hard-pressed for time and the declaration was imminent.

David Warner, Usman Khawaja hammer Pakistan at Melbourne; Australia trail by 165

Josh Hazlewood and David Warner’s landmarks: This has to be one of the best bowling performances by Hazlewood, who is rapidly emerging as one of the best bowlers in Test cricket. Against a stoic Pakistani approach with bat, Hazlewood kept asking questions to which the tourists had no reply to. Hazlewood continued to test them outside off, and did not let the frustration of bowling so many overs have any ill effect. He returned with the figures of 32.3-11-50-3 with an economy of just 1.53. Wahab Riaz’s dismissal was the 100th Test scalp for Hazlewood.

On the other hand, Warner had a lot to cheer about. He clobbered 17 boundaries and a six to score 144 off 143 balls, his 17th Test century. Warner’s rapid ton is his first at the iconic MCG. In the process, he also became the 19th Australian to complete 5,000 runs in Tests.

Warner and Khawaja in ODI mode: Pakistan’s restrained approach gave an impression that the wicket was not an easy one to bat on. But looking at the bowlers who did not get any assistance from the wicket, one felt that the pitch was perhaps not suitable for brisk scoring. However, Warner and Usman Khawaja demolished that impression by adding 198 for the second wicket in a little over 35 overs, with a scoring rate of more than 5.5 runs an over. Their aggressive approach not only pulled things back in control for Australia, but it also knocked off a significant chunk of Pakistan’s total.

A forgettable day for Wahab Riaz: His exploits with the bat in the second innings of Brisbane Test had given Pakistan the first glimmer of hope in that improbable chase. But the man who had terrorised Shane Watson with the white ball in the last World Cup hit the lowest on Wednesday. Wahab struggled for rhythm while running up to bowl, which caused a lot of worries for him. He overstepped as many as 10 times in the 14 overs he bowled, which will remain an embarrassing point in his career. In fact, in the sixth over of his innings, he overshot the crease thrice in a row. He even got rid of Warner when he was on 81, but replays revealed that he had overstepped.