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Australia roar back into contention at MCG

AAP logoAAP 27/12/2016 Roger Vaughan and Michael Ramsey

Pakistan did themselves no favours on Wednesday as quickfire Australian scoring brought the home side roaring back into contention in the Boxing Day Test.

A bizarre DRS review, a disastrous no-ball from Wahab Riaz and strange tactics around their star leg-spinner Yasir Shah were the lowlights on day three for Test cricket's most mercurial team.

Pakistan had control after lunch as opener Azhar Ali shone with an unbeaten 205 and they declared their first innings at 9-443.

But early in the Australian innings, Pakistan's first DRS appeal was embarrassing.

The video replay showed the ball was a long way away from David Warner's outside edge.

He went on to plunder 144 from 143 balls and lead Australia to 2-278 at stumps, 165 runs behind.

It was Warner's first MCG Test ton and he became the sixth-fastest Australian to reach 5000 Test runs.

Usman Khawaja is on 95 after sharing in a 198-run stand for the second wicket with Warner and captain Steve Smith had made 10.

Warner was on 81 when Wahab bowled him with a no-ball.

But it was one of Wahab's 10 no balls so far in the innings and he is a repeat offender.

"I know it wasn't ideal ... the no-ball problem really came and hit him badly," Azhar said.

Then there were the field placings for Yasir, their ace leg spinner, who struggled with 1-97 from just 16 overs.

His only wicket came when opener Matt Renshaw tried to smash a straight ball and was bowled for 10.

Yasir tried to bowl an off-stump line to left-handers Warner and Khawaja.

But it did not work, especially when his field usually featured only three men on the off side.

"Unfortunately today he didn't get much turn out of the pitch," Azhar said.

"That's maybe why he wanted to bowl straight.

"Sometimes it's really hard, when the pitch doesn't give you much turn, to come outside off because you can be hit easily through the covers."

Earlier, Azhar punched the air with delight when he reached his double century.

It is only the fourth double ton by an international player at the MCG.

Azhar was unaware that he was also only three runs short of the highest international Test score at the ground.

West Indian legend Sir Viv Richards plundered 208 in 1984.

After two days of hard graft for Pakistan's batsmen in gloomy conditions, the sun came out after lunch on Wednesday and it was a run feast.

Day three featured 413 runs - the first time in more than a century that a day's play in an MCG Test has featured more than 400.

Pakistan resumed at 6-310 and Azhar and Sohail Khan picked up the pace, posting a record eighth-wicket partnership in Tests between the two countries of 118.

Sohail's blistering knock of 65 featured four sixes from the bowling of off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who went for 1-115 from 23 overs and is sure to come under intense pressure to retain selection for the third Test in Sydney.

Typical of Melbourne's notorious weather, the MCG lights were on for the morning session before the conditions improved dramatically.

The sunny conditions on Wednesday afternoon could be short-lived, with the chance of thunderstorms on Thursday.

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