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Pakistan offer resistance at the SCG

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017 Rob Forsaith

Spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe loom as the key to Australia busting open their SCG dead rubber against Pakistan, who finally offered some resistance in reaching 2-126 at stumps on day two.

Australia remain in control of the contest, boasting a 412-run lead following centuries from David Warner, Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb.

But their bid for a 3-0 series win stalled when Warner, one of the best fielders in the world, fluffed his lines during Wednesday's wicket-less final session.

Warner missed chances to run out Azhar Ali on 12 and Younis Khan on 32 at the non-striker's end, while he dropped a sharp one-handed catch at leg slip in the day's penultimate over.

Azhar was 58 not out at stumps on Wednesday, while Younis was on 64.

"It would have been nice to take one of those run-out opportunities and then you never know what could have come from there," Handscomb said.

"We just need to come out tomorrow and keep that pressure on. It's going to be a real tough grind. The wicket is pretty good.

"Hopefully a few footmarks start to appear and our spinners can come into it and crack this game wide open."

Lyon created a late chance when Azhar was on 51 but the tweakers were otherwise ineffectual in the final session, when Steve Smith opted against using them in tandem.

"It's going to be a challenge but both of those bowlers love a challenge, SOKy (O'Keefe) is always one to get into a fight," Handscomb said.

"He's great at getting into the contest and so is Nath. Playing against them, I know how hard they work at getting batters out.

"They know that they have to bowl a lot of overs, they're looking forward to that."

Running between the wickets was not the highlight of an unbeaten 120-run partnership between Azhar and Younis, who are arguably Pakistan's two most talented batsmen.

Azhar was mid-pitch when Younis sent him back in the 11th over.

Warner had enough time to lob the ball back to bowler Mitchell Starc and complete the dismissal but instead tried to throw down the stumps.

Azhar returned the favour in the 27th over, when Warner went within a whisker of throwing down the stumps.

The pair were otherwise steady after Josh Hazlewood snared two wickets in his second over, backing up Steve Smith's decision to declare at 8-538 on the eve of the tea break.

"I said earlier today to the guys in the changeroom, you can never judge a pitch until both sides have batted on it," Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said.

"At 2-6 we were in some serious strife but to see the resilience, character and intent that has been shown by Younis and Azhar, it's been a real example to the rest of the dressing room.

"Hopefully the other guys take a leaf out of their books."

Hazlewood needed seven balls at Sharjeel Khan and four at Babar Azam to account for the batsmen.

Hazlewood and Starc found bowling to Azhar, who showed what he is capable of with an unbeaten knock of 205 in the Boxing Day Test, and Younis far tougher.

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