30 Dec 2016

Storm all but washes away Australian hopes of Test win

7:15 am on 30 December 2016

The Australian cricket captain Steve Smith raised a composed century to push the home side to a 22-run first innings lead against Pakistan on Thursday's fourth day, shortly before a storm all but washed away Australia's hopes of victory in the second test.

A downpour prompted an early tea two balls after Smith had completed his 17th test hundred and play was later abandoned as rain pelted down at a Melbourne Cricket Ground that had been bathed in sunshine for most of the day.

Steve Smith celebrates his century during the second Ashes Test at Lord's, 2015.

Steve Smith celebrates his century. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Australia had moved to 465 for six in reply to the tourists' 443-9 declared, with Smith unbeaten on 100 and Mitchell Starc on seven not out at the other end.

Although Friday's final day is expected to be clear, the weather has left Australia little time to build an imposing enough total to pressure Pakistan's batsmen and force a result to wrap up the three-match series 2-0.

"Obviously the rain hasn't helped us," Smith said.

"So now it's just about summing it up in the morning and seeing where we can go. It's obviously going to be difficult to get a result.

"The wicket hasn't broken up much and it's playing pretty well."

Australia lost two wickets in the morning and when they resumed after lunch on 395-4, Smith pulled a short ball from Sohail Khan for four on the first delivery of the session to notch his 1,000th run for the year.

Number six batsman Nic Maddinson fell for 22, bowled when he opted for an ill-advised jaunt down the pitch to take on leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

Rookie Maddinson was already under pressure after a run of failures in his first two tests and the unconvincing 55-ball innings may not be enough to keep him in the side for the third and final match in Sydney.

- Reuters