‘One of the best fielders in Pakistan’? Bizarre claim over cordon nightmare, Marsh backs bowlers


Pakistan have rallied around embattled fielder Abdullah Shafique after his drop of Mitch Marsh that opened the door for Australia to take control of the Boxing Day Test.

The opening batter dropped a sitter with the allrounder on 20 and Australia 100 runs ahead – and it cost the tourists badly, with Marsh and Steve Smith going on to add a partnership of 156, batting almost all the way to the close.

Nevertheless, bowler Mir Hamza backed his teammate in.

“Abdullah is one of the best fielders in Pakistan, and dropped catches are part of the game. It’s OK,” said Hamza.

The seamer cleaned up Travis Head with one of the balls of the year earlier in the day and generally reflected well on his performance.

“It was a dream for me,” he said.

“Playing in Melbourne and playing against one of the best teams, Australia, and to give two breakthroughs in one over for my team.

“Playing after a long time, to be very honest, I was talking to myself that I have to prove myself if I want to play international cricket for my country.

“If you see my last three matches, I bowled well but I didn’t take wickets for my team. In this game, I always wanted to take wickets for my team.”

Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith. (Photo by Morgan Hancock – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Marsh backs any total defence

Mitch Marsh will back Australia in to defend any total against Pakistan after the allrounder steered the hosts out of major trouble in the Boxing Day Test.

Australia will head to the MCG on day four of the second Test with a lead of 241, largely thanks to Marsh’s sparkling 96 amid a barrage of Pakistani swing bowling.

Marsh joined Steve Smith when Australia were reeling at 4-16 on Thursday, but their 153-run stand has likely batted Pakistan out of the match on a wearing pitch.

The last team to score more than 300 in the fourth innings of an MCG Test was Pakistan in a losing cause back in 1990.

Marsh joked that Australia’s tail could still push their lead up to 500 when Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc resume at 6-187 on Friday.

“I think if we were all out now we would feel very much in the game,” Marsh said.

“I don’t necessarily want to put a number on it for our bowlers, but we know that they can certainly hold the bat.

“A couple of good partnerships with some tired bowlers now, hopefully we can get up towards the 300 mark, but I guess anything from here we’ll take.”

Marsh praised MCG curator Matt Page for putting together a pitch that has resulted in two entertaining days of cricket once the rain cleared after a dreary opening on Tuesday.

The MCG was infamously slapped with a “poor” rating by the International Cricket Council following a dull Ashes draw in 2017.

But in the years since, the MCG has become one of the best wickets in the country and is on track to produce a result for a sixth straight Test.

“We’re now deep into the third innings yet bowlers are still massively in the game, and that bodes well for us if we can get a few more runs,” Marsh said.

“With our bowlers, hopefully there’s still enough seam movement – certainly with the new ball it sort of died off a little bit around the 35-over mark.

“But there’s still enough and I guess that’s what you want, you want it to be entertaining.”

With AAP

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