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Runs Galore, A Weird Dismissal, Then Stubborn Pakistan Resistance

Australia is going to have to work had to win this.

04/01/2017 11:41 AM AEDT | Updated 04/01/2017 5:54 PM AEDT
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Oops.

Pakistan had a really good last couple of hours on day two of the third Test against Australia at the SCG.

The visitors had lurched to 2-6 early in their innings, and at that point you thought 'oh dear, this thing is going to get embarrassing'. But they stabilised things through experienced batsman Younus Khan -- who averages 52 in Test cricket but has had a poor series thus far -- and Azhar Ali, who has had a fantastic series so far including a double century in Melbourne.

Pakistan was 2-126 at stumps, in reply to Australia's 7 declared for 538. The full scorecard is here.

At the start of the Pakistan innings, Josh Hazlewood grabbed two wickets in his second over. This was the first.

And this was the second.

But Australia started to look a little raggedy after that. Half chances went down in the field, run-out throws were missed and Australian captain Steve Smith had a frustrated air about him.

What looked like it might be a three day Test now appears it will make it well into Friday, and perhaps beyond.

EARLIER...

Cricket is actually happening amid the ex-prime ministerial beer skolling, and the sort of cricket Peter Handscomb played is worthy of several beers in its own right.

Handscomb, 25, was one of the players drafted into the Australian team after the mass-sackings in the wake of the Hobart debacle against South Africa earlier this summer. Australia has won every match since, and Handscomb, 25, is a large part of the reason why.

The Victorian notched his second Test century in just six Test innings on Wednesday, then got out in the weirdest way. Let's start with the positive. Handscomb's full test career batting ledger currently reads thus:

54, 1 not out, 105, 35 not out, 54, 110. So in other words, the lowest score he's been dismissed for in six knocks is 54.

We repeat. Peter Handscomb has never fallen short of 50 in his four-Test career (when his innings has been allowed to progress that far). Which is pretty incredible.

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Dude's got a heck of a game face.

There's an unflustered calm about Handscomb at the batting crease. That said, The guy is human. He flashed dangerously at a couple of balls when on 96, and again on 98. On 99 he prodded at the spin of Azhar Ali and was almost caught. But a single the following ball got him to three figures. Clearly this century meant much to him.

When he was out, it was, as mentioned, bizarre. Here's how ESPNcricinfo live commentator's descrbed it better than we ever could:

Wahab Riaz to Handscomb, OUT, a wide yorker outside off, some reverse maybe? Moving away late. Guided to deep point. Oh wait, the leg bail is dislodged. The third umpire is being called for. Never seen that before. Handscomb went really deep in the crease, and had to stretch out for that. In trying to get to the ball, his bat swing just grazed the leg stump and the leg bail came off.

And here's what it looked like as it happened.

Hit wicket. Yep, you don't see that much. All the same, this innings will mean plenty to Australian captain Steve Smith, who will delight in the bulk of runs in this innings being scored by the new blood, after opener Matt Renshaw made his first Test century with 184, and debutant all-rounder Hilton Cartwright chipped in with 37.

Cartwright looked solid at the crease. Mitchell Marsh -- the last all-rounder to occupy the number six batting spot for Australia, for a rather painful 19 Tests -- never looked like he was at home in Test cricket. Each defensive stroke seemed an exercise in defying his own desire to belt the ball out of the park.

Cartwright, by contrast, looked at ease, happy to attack or defend as the ball dictated. Kid's got a future, and it'll be particularly interesting to see him bowl.

Australia declared its innings at 7-538 halfway through the second session, after some lusty late innings hitting from Mitchell Starc (16 off 10) and Matt Wade (29 off 33). We love lusty things.

EVEN EARLIER...

Bob Hawke just skolled a beer at the cricket. Repeat. Hawkey downed a whole beer on demand.

The 87-year-old former PM attracted a rousing cheer when shown with a beer in his hand on the big screen. The whole of Australia knew what was coming next.

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THIS, people, is exactly what old prime ministers are for.

Urged on by the SCG crowd, Hawkey necked the full glass of beer in his hand just like he used to do when he was a trade union rep famous for sinking piss, then a PM famous for sinking piss.

God love the man. In an age of responsible drinking and responsible alcohol service and responsible everything, Hawke somehow makes skolling a beer seem normal again.

Former Test bowler Trent Copeland certainly approved.

MEANWHILE...

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Marvellous.

Is it a "cream" or Richies? A "bone" of Richies? A "beige" or "off-white" of Richies?

This is the extremely important question* (*not actually that important) which is currently occupying the ABC commentators, as day two of the third Test between Australia and Pakistan at the SCG meanders through a flattish phase.

After Dave Warner's historic fireworks on day one, and 20-year-old Queenslander Matt Renshaw's less explosive but just as impressive 184, attention has turned to the group of spectators dressed as the late, great Australian captain and commentator Richie Benaud.

But what should we call them? A rabble of Richies, perhaps? The alliteration works. We'll update you if we hear of any better ideas.

A WHOLE BUNCH EARLIER...

For a guy who supposedly played second fiddle to Dave Warner, Matt Renshaw sure made a big noise.

The 20-year-old Queenslander looked as comfortable on day two of the third Test as he had pretty much all Tuesday.

The difference is the runs flowed faster. On day one, Renshaw accumulated just 25 runs in the entire two hour pre-lunch session while Dave Warner collected himself a hundred.

On day two, Renshaw added 17 runs to his overnight tally in the first half hour of the day. Though he was scoring quicker, there was still no fuss or flourish about his game. He just stood there, all hulking 193cm of him, oozing calmness and confidence.

The only brief moment of worry was an edge which fell short of slip. But otherwise, he looked as much a fixture of the SCG as the famous old green member's stand. But then, after 25 minutes of play, he chopped a ball from Imran Khan onto his stumps. And that was that. Out for 184.

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For those of you who have no idea what Hilton Cartwright looks like (and let's be honest, that's most of us), here he is.

Debutant all-rounder Hilton Cartwright hit the first ball of his career through the covers and looked untroubled throughout his innings.

We'll update this throughout the day. Live scores are here.

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