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Rain looms as the key to Boxing Day Test

AAP logoAAP 26/12/2016 Roger Vaughan and Michael Ramsey

Melbourne's notorious weather looms as the spoiler for whatever plans Australia and Pakistan hatch to swing the Boxing Day Test their way.

Opener Azhar Ali's outstanding 139no paced Pakistan to 6-310 at stumps on day two, achieving the first-innings target of 300 that coach Mickey Arthur had set after the opening day.

But the rain that forced the cancellation of Monday's late session returned repeatedly on day two, meaning only 51.3 of the 98 overs scheduled for Tuesday were bowled.

And the forecast is bleak for at least the next two days, with more humidity, showers and even the chance of storms on Thursday.

Victorian native and Australian bowling coach David Saker predicted the MCG wicket to settle once they bat.

He said they remain confident of forcing a result, provided the weather gives them a chance.

"Knowing the MCG quite well, it's usually good to bat day three and four so we're still well and truly in the game," he said.

"We can't control the weather. There's still a lot of time left in the game.

"We know cricket ... has a habit of turning pretty quick.

"We'll hopefully knock them over as quick as we can and then post a good score and if we can get in front of them, we're a chance to win."

Azhar's 12th Test century and his first at the MCG was a patient, determined knock.

He had a crucial stand of 115 with Asad Shafiq (50) that took Pakistan from a rickety 4-125.

The left hander then combined with Mohammad Amir for a 48-run partnership late on day two that foiled Australia's bid to wrap up the Pakistan tail cheaply.

Mohammad's quickfire 28no from 23 balls was undoubtedly a precursor of how Pakistan will approach the start of day three - score as quickly as possible and then attack the Australian top order.

"Tomorrow, let's see how the weather is, whether it's going to be hot or cloudy as well, so it depends how the wicket will react," said Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz.

"Obviously we're going to bat for a bit and then we can analyse how the wicket is behaving."

The succession of rain delays frustrated Pakistan, who are 1-0 down in the series and desperate to win at the MCG after their late Gabba heroics.

Saker admitted the rain break that forced an early lunch suited Australia, who were bowling part-time spinners Steve Smith and Nic Maddinson as they toyed with taking the new ball.

"They (Pakistan) made the most of it - it was one of the times in the game that they have scored quite quickly and it was quite tough for us," Saker said.

"Steve had to make a pretty tough decision whether to take the new ball or not.

"I think we made the right decision but then we had to come off, which was probably a blessing at that stage for us."

Paceman Josh Hazlewood was the pick of the Australian attack with 2-33 from 26 overs, while Jackson Bird had 3-91.

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