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In-form Ali on cusp of Pakistan history

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Azhar Ali will stride out to the SCG crease on Thursday on the cusp of becoming Pakistan's most prolific run scorer in a single series in Australia.

Both the Test opener, who is unbeaten on 58, and Younis Khan (64) loom key figures for the tourists as they attempt to reel in Australia's mammoth first innings target of 538 on day three.

Ali's half-century continued a historic tour where he is now just nine runs shy of recording the highest individual series total by a Pakistani on Australian shores.

Not since Mohsin Khan tallied 390 runs in a five-Test series in the summer of 1983-84 has a Pakistan batsman enjoyed such success down under.

The hosts may have dominated the series, but their attack has had no answer for Ali, whose unbeaten 205 in the Boxing Day Test went agonisingly close to being the biggest at the MCG.

His 382 runs so far is equal to Steve Smith for most runs in the series.

And the 31-year-old showed no signs of slowing down on day two, helping keep his team in the game following the loss of two early wickets in the innings.

"I think he's been fantastic," coach Mickey Arthur said.

"Over the past year he's been a cornerstone of our batting. To see him come out and play with the intent he did again (on Wednesday) is amazing.

"The amount of time he's actually spent on the field this tour is almost beyond belief. For him to keep going and going shows a lot of resilience and a tough mind."

Arthur said both Ali and Khan exemplified the type of cricket he wanted his team to play.

"Hopefully the other guys take a leaf out of their book, particularly intent because intent gets you into right positions and allows you to score," he said.

"And these two guys have shown that. We'll see carry on with the same intent and see where that gets us (on Thursday)."

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