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Warner replacement contender slams timely century, Pakistan injury curse continues with another bowler out

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23rd December, 2023
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Marcus Harris has boosted his hopes of succeeding David Warner in Australia’s Test side after scoring a century in Victoria’s tour match against Pakistan.

The left-hander, who played the most recent of his 14 Tests in January 2022, dominated with 126 from 131 balls behind closed doors at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Saturday.

Harris top-scored in Victoria’s 4-272 as Dylan Brasher also impressed to finish unbeaten on 79.

The 31-year-old Harris, along with Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw, is vying to take the opening spot Warner will vacate when he retires from Test cricket following the SCG Test against Pakistan in January.

It was Harris’s second century of the summer after he belted 164 against Tasmania, also at the Junction Oval, last month.

Pakistan requested another match ahead of the Boxing Day Test after being disappointed when their game against the Prime Minister’s XI ended early.

AAP understands the tourists were happy for spectators and media to be inside the ground, but there were problems finding staff for the Cricket Victoria facility at such short notice.

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Pakistan made 323 after batting first on Friday, with wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan staking his claim for a Boxing Day Test recall.

Rizwan hit a free-flowing 50 from 70 balls before retiring during day one of the hit-out.

Saud Shakeel, who has enjoyed a consistent start to his Test career and showed fight against Australia in Perth last week, top scored with 70.

Rizwan was surprisingly overlooked for the first Test, with Pakistan opting for 36-year-old Sarfaraz Ahmed behind the stumps.

Pakistan briefly batted again, making 3-57 before the practice match was brought to an end in the 12th over of their second session in the middle.

The tourists have been hit by a second series-ending withdrawal in as many days, with spinner Noman Ali suffering from appendicitis.

Ali, who didn’t play in the first Test, will miss the rest of Pakistan’s series in Australia after undergoing surgery in Melbourne on Saturday.

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Noman Ali.

Noman Ali has been ruled out of the remainder of Pakistan’s tour of Australia with acute appendicitis. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

“Noman Ali complained of sudden and severe abdominal pain yesterday, leading to examinations and scans in emergency that confirmed a diagnosis of acute appendicitis,” a Pakistan team statement read.

“Post-surgery he is stable and doing fine. He will be discharged later (on Saturday).”

It comes after fast bowler Khurram Shahzad was on Friday ruled out for the remainder of the Benaud-Qadir series.

After impressing on Test debut in Perth last week, Shahzad suffered a stress fracture in his 10th rib, as well as an abdominal muscle tear.

Pakistan had already travelled to Australia with a weakened bowling line-up after quick Naseem Shah was ruled out due to a long-term injury.

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Legspinner Abrar Ahmed missed the Perth Test with discomfort in his right leg, while fiery fast bowler Haris Rauf chose to play in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Stars instead of appearing in Pakistan’s squad.

It left star quick Shaheen Afridi to carry a heavy load aged just 23.

Pakistan have lost their past 15 Tests in Australia, last winning back in 1995 at the SCG. 

© AAP

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