Azhar Ali led from the start and remained unbeaten in the final session of the second day against West Indies in Dubai in the first pink ball Test in the sub-continent. To make this occasion special, Ali registered an unbeaten 302 against the downtrodden visitors who have been mauled so far in the T20s and ODIs.
Ali is the first batsman to get a hundred, a double hundred and a triple hundred in a pink ball Test which also happens to be Pakistan’s 400th Test match in history.
In the 156th over of the inning, Ali drove an overpitched delivery by Jermaine Blackwood through the covers for a four to bring up the triple ton. In the process he became the fourth Pakistan player to make 300 after Hanif Mohammad (337), Inzamam-ul-Haq (329) and Younis Khan (313).
After reaching the score, he bend down and kissed the pitch in jubilation. That also proved to be the cue for Pakistan’s declaration in the first innings of the first Test at 579/3.
Ali’s monumental effort spanned a mammoth 658 minutes or just under 11 hours with 469 balls played with 23 boundaries and two sixes for good measure.
He enjoyed perfect support first from Sami Aslam (90) for a first wicket partnership of 215 before Asad Shafiq (67) piled on the runs. The second wicket’s stand lasted 137 runs and then he put up 165 together with Test debutant Babar Azam.
Azam was coming into the contest in brilliant form after scoring three straight hundreds in the ODIs.
Ali enjoyed a life when batting at 190 when he was dropped by Blackwood. The Pakistan batsman tried to play the ball down to third man while there was a first slip in place. However, he breathed a sigh of relief when Blackwood let the chance go begging. It wasn’t at full speed or at an awkward height but was put down to add to West Indies’ woes.
Australia and New Zealand played the first ever day-night Test in Adelaide last year, the first-ever such fixture in Test cricket’s 140-year history.
This three-match series will continue in Abu Dhabi (October 21-25) and Sharjah (October 30-November 3).