Australia has six wickets left to survive the final day of the second Test against Pakistan, finishing 143-4 at stumps on Sunday and chasing an unlikely target of 603 after Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq matched the record for the fastest Test century and broke that of the quickest fifty.
At the end of the fourth day, Australia trailed Pakistan by 460 runs with the pitch expected to deteriorate on Monday.
The 40-year-old Misbah reached his century in 56 balls, matching the record set by West Indies great Vivian Richards against England in 1986. Misbah reached his 50 in just 21 deliveries with the last ball before lunch, eclipsing the previous 24-ball record by South Africa’s Jacques Kallis against Zimbabwe in 2005.
“It’s the biggest honour for me. Really, I think I am nowhere near him,’’ Misbah said of Richards.
Australia’s only consolation is that Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh — their two best players of spin bowling — are at the crease. Smith was unbeaten on 38 and Marsh on 26 in a 42-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Left-arm orthodox bowler Zulfiqar Babar (3-65) took the first three Australian wickets to fall — opener Chris Rogers (2) tried to work him around the corner and edged to Asad Shafiq at leg slip, Glenn Maxwell (4) was trapped leg before wicket after a decision review and, moments after tea, captain Michael Clarke failed to read the turn and was clean bowled for five.
Deep deep trouble
Opener David Warner (58) moved Australia from 43-3 to past the century mark before he top-edged a sweep off Mohammad Hafeez to Yasir Shah at point, leaving the visitors on 101-4.
Earlier, Misbah (101 not out) got his second century in the match, which was matched by Azhar Ali (100 not out). In the first innings, Misbah was out for 101 and Ali 109.
“Records give satisfaction but nothing is better for a batsman than getting to his hundred,’’ Misbah said. “I was trying to give Azhar a chance to get to his hundred, and I just wanted to score quick runs and pile the pressure on Australia.’’
It was only the second time that two teammates made centuries in both innings of a Test match after Australian brothers Ian and Greg Chappell in the drawn first Test against New Zealand in 1974. Ian Chappell scored 145 and 121, while Greg Chappell hit 247 not out and 133.
In all, Misbah slammed five sixes and 11 fours. Unfortunately for Australia, Peter Siddle dropped Misbah in the second ball of his innings off Smith when on four.
“For us, he should have been out for four,’’ Australia coach Darren Lehmann said. “We should take all chances that come our way, but we haven’t really done that this whole series.’’
Lehman, though, said the series was not over yet. “We have really been outplayed in the series, but it would be great if the two young guys (Smith and Marsh) can save the test for us tomorrow,’’ Lehman said. “That would be a fantastic achievement for us.’’
Australia will need to produce a record chase. A draw or win will give Pakistan a rare series victory over Australia, its first since 1994. Pakistan won the first of the two-Test series by 221 runs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 570-6 dec and 293/3 dec (Misbah ul Haq 101 n.o, A Ali 100 n.o, M Johnson 2/45) ; Australia 1st innings 261 and 143/4 (D Warner 58, Z Babar 3/65)
Records equalled, broken
Balls were taken by Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq to score his second century of the Test on Sunday. In the process he equalled Viv Richards’ long-standing fastest Test hundred record, set back in 1986. En route to this feat, Misbah also destroyed the fastest Test fifty record, reaching the milestone three balls quicker than Jacques Kallis’s previous landmark of 24.
Time in Test history that two teammates made centuries in both innings of a match. Misbah ul Haq (101 & 101*) and Azhar Ali (109 & 100*) repeated what only brothers Ian (145 & 121) and Greg Chappell (247 & 133) had achieved against New Zealand in 1974.