Australian skipper Steve Smith celebrates his century against Pakistan at the MCG yesterday.
Australian skipper Steve Smith celebrates his century against Pakistan at the MCG yesterday. JULIAN SMITH

Bad weather fails to rain on Smith's parade

CRCIKET: Australia holds a 22-run lead heading into the final day's play against Pakistan at the Boxing Day Test, after rain once again forced play to be abandoned following just 55 overs of play.

At stumps, Australia was 6-465 with captain Steve Smith unbeaten on 100 while fast bowler Mitchell Starc was seven not out.

Smith and Peter Handscomb (54) put on 92 runs for Australia's third wicket, having come together early in the day following the dismissal of Usman Khawaja for 97.

Khawaja fell three runs short of his century, nicking off to Wahab Riaz having only added two runs to his overnight score.

It was Smith's 17th Test century, moving level with David Warner and Adam Gilchrist at 14th on Australia's century-makers' list.

In doing so Smith achieved a feat that neither Ricky Ponting nor Michael Clarke managed throughout their decorated Test careers.

The incumbent Test skipper registered his third consecutive 1000-plus-run calendar year at Test level - becoming just the second Australian to ever do so.

Matthew Hayden is the only other Australian batsman to have managed more than two consecutive years with 1000 Test runs. He did so on five straight occasions between 2001 and 2005.

Smith's career tally stood at 4604 runs when he reached triple figures yesterday, and only three players have scored more runs in their first 49 Tests - Leonard Hutton, Sunil Gavaskar and Don Bradman.

The next highest run-scorer at the 49-Test mark is Smith's teammate David Warner.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's first-innings hero Azhar Ali was taken from the field after copping a Matthew Wade pull shot flush in the head at short leg.

Fielders and the team physio rushed to Azhar as he lay on the ground next to the pitch, but he was able to walk from the field and reports from the Pakistan dressing room indicated he escaped without serious injury.

Azhar ducked as Wade launched into a pull shot off a short ball from spinner Yasir Shah during the second session. The shot hit Azhar flush in the top of the helmet and ricocheted to Babar Azam, who caught it on the full.

The ball never hit the ground - so why wasn't Wade out?

He was saved by law 32.3 (d) which describes a fair catch. The law states a batsman is out if a fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman.

However, "it is not a fair catch if at any time after having been struck by the bat and before a catch is completed the ball has touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder”.

Wade made just two more runs before edging a catch to second slip to be out for nine, and admitted he needed to be contributing more with the bat.

"From the get-go I've been told to come in and make a presence on the ground and I feel like I've done that on the ground with my wicketkeeping but I want to get some runs,” Wade told ABC Grandstand.

"I feel like I've been hitting the ball well for a long period of time and now I just need to put some runs on the board.”

Under-pressure batsman Nic Maddinson made 22 before being bowled by Shah.

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