Azhar Ali rewrote the record books as he smashed a double century to help Pakistan reach 443/9 declared on the third day of the Melbourne Test against Australia. Azhar’s feat made him the first Pakistan batsman to score a double century in Tests in Australia. He also notched up the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman in Australia, beating the previous mark of 158 set by Majid Khan in 1972 also in Melbourne. (SCORECARD)
In response, David Warner blasted his 17th century and second against Pakistan as Australia made a strong start. The dashing Australian left-hander also achieved a milestone as he went past 5000 runs in Tests in 109 innings, one innings quicker than former Australia captain Ricky Ponting. By the end of day 3, Australia had reached 278/2, with Usman Khawaja nearing his century
Azhar Ali also became the fifth Pakistan batsman to score a double century in Tests against Australia. He joined Saleem Malik, Younis Khan, Javed Miandad and Taslim Arif as the other players to have smashed a double ton.
Malik smashed 237 in Rawalpindi in the 1994 series and this remains the highest score by a Pakistan batsmen in Tests versus Australia. Younis Khan smashed 213 in the Dubai Test in 2014 while Javed Miandad’s 211 came in the 1988 Test in Karachi. Taslim Arif smashed an unbeaten 210 in the Faisalabad Test of 1980. In all instances, Pakistan have never lost a Test when a batsman has scored a double century.
Azhar Ali in legendary company
Azhar Ali’s double century in Australia has put him in a marvellous company. He is only the 14th batsmen in history to hit a 200-plus score in Australia and only the fourth Asian batsmen to achieve this feat. Sachin Tendulkar of India leads the list for Asian batsmen with an unbeaten 241 in Sydney 2004, followed by Rahul Dravid’s epic 233 in Adelaide in 2003. Ravi Shastri is the other player to score a double ton when he smashed 206 in 1992 in Sydney. The list is headed by New Zealand’s Ross Taylor, who blasted 290 in the Perth Test of 2015.
However, Azhar Ali became the first visiting batsman in 32 years to smash a double century at the MCG. The previous instance of a batsman scoring a double century was Vivian Richards of West Indies, when he smashed 208 in the 1984 Test. Richards’ score is the highest by a visiting batsman at the MCG. Azhar became only the fourth batsman to ever score a double ton in Melbourne.
What makes Azhar’s knock even more remarkable is that he is only the fourth overseas opener to smash a double century in Tests in Australia. Alastair Cook’s 235* in the Brisbane Test in the 2010/11 Ashes is on top of the list, followed by Shastri’s 206 in Sydney in 1992 and South African batsman Eddie Barlow’s 201 in Adelaide in 1964.
Record partnership boosts Pakistan
Azhar Ali shared a magnificent eighth wicket stand of 118 with Sohail Khan, who blasted his maiden fifty as Pakistan reached their fourth highest total in Melbourne. The stand of 118 for the eighth wicket is the highest for Pakistan in Tests in Australia and it is the fourth best overall. Nathan Astle and Adam Parore of New Zealand lead the list with a record stand of 253 which they achieved against the Aussies in Perth in 2001.
Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar are a distant second with a 129-run stand which they achieved in the 2008 Sydney Test. Patsy Hendren and Harold Larwood of England shared a 124-run stand in the 1928 Test in Brisbane, a match which England won by a margin of 675 runs, still a record margin in terms of runs.
Azhar Ali’s effort has given Pakistan a real chance of ending their 21-year winless streak in Australia as they aim to stay alive following their 39-run defeat in Brisbane.