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Azam, Shafiq plunder runs against Australia A

PERTH (Monitoring Desk): Middle-order batsmen Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq centuries helped Pakistan reach 336 for 3 against Australia A on day one in the three-day tour match at Perth.

After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Pakistan was dealt an early blow as they lost their Test skipper Azhar Ali with only 18 runs on the board. Pacer Michael Neser was successful in trapping Ali leg-before-wicket (lbw), when he was on 11.

Opener Shan Masood and left-hand batsman Haris Sohail tried to stitch a partnership, but right-arm pacer Riley Meredith induced an outside edge from Sohail’s bat to have him caught behind at 18. Pakistan hopes of mustering a competitive first innings total took a further hit, after a short ball by Meredith removed Masood for 22.

The visitors were in desperate need of a partnership and looked at their Twenty20 International (T20I) skipper Azam to provide a counter punch. Azam responded with a couple of magnificent fours to take Pakistan to 96-3 at Tea.

The 25-year-old found an able ally in Shafiq as both formed an important partnership at a crucial juncture. The duo completed their fifties and mustered 101 runs in the second session as they took Pakistan unscathed through to dinner.

Pakistan continued to strengthen their position in the final session as Azam smashed a magnificent century in just 126 balls. At the other end, Shafiq took his time and played a rather gritty knock to reach the triple figures.

Both Azam (157) and Shafiq (119) remained unbeaten with their 276-run partnership at the end of day’s play.

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