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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Masood kickstarts Pakistan's Australia tour with unbeaten century

Shan Masood started his tour with a century Getty Images

Pakistan 324 for 6 (Masood 156*, Sarfaraz 41*, Buckingham 3-63) vs Prime Minister's XI

The day before having a first hit-out of the tour, Pakistan captain Shan Masood stressed the importance of his top order converting starts and he took it upon himself to set the standard with an almost faultless century on the opening day against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra.

On a hot day and faced with a slow pitch, Pakistan made reasonable use of a chance to bat first but it was only Masood who fully cashed in as Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam and Sarfaraz Ahmed all departed before making the most of their opportunities. Faheem Ashraf was brilliantly caught at slip by Cameron Bancroft off what became the last ball of the day as Pakistan closed on 324 for 6.

"Shan's innings was pretty much flawless. He played brilliantly," Jordan Buckingham, who took three wickets for the PM's XI, said. "The wicket was obviously conducive to batting but you still have to get out there and get the runs. For him to barely give a chance, it was an outstanding innings. Think he'll be in for a pretty good summer."

Masood, who recently took over the Test captaincy from Babar, went to his hundred from 169 balls shortly after tea, with the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in attendance having returned to the ground following his brief morning appearance where he handed out caps and conducted the toss.

Masood knows the importance of making big runs on this tour to give the bowling attack a chance of success and wants to learn the lessons of the 2019-2020 when he made scores 27, 42, 19 and 68.

"I got a couple of starts but you want to convert those starts in Test cricket and get three figures," he said on Tuesday. "That will be my test, my opportunity. We got used to conditions [in 2019] very well. Babar got a hundred, Yasir [Shah] got a hundred, but there were a lot of fifties from batsmen so we want to convert those into matchwinning contributions."

The pitch served up at Manuka Oval, after a lot of recent rain, is unlikely to bear much resemblance to what Pakistan will face in Perth next week. The lack of pace was clear early on when an edge from Shafique did not carry to the slips who were stood reasonably close, while later in the day wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson was stood up to Buckingham and Beau Webster with a ring field.

But, still, time in the middle can't be discounted for those who managed decent stints. Imam-ul-Haq couldn't take his first opportunity when he inside-edged a drive off Buckingham, a late replacement for Michael Neser, who started with an excellent wicket maiden to the left hander.

However, from there early progress was steady without the run rate threatening to match the 'Pakistan Way' from the Test series against Sri Lanka. There was some early seam movement to negotiate which brought a number of plays and misses as the tried to be positive, while a sluggish outfield reduced the value for strokes that got through the infield.

The lack of pace on the surface played a part in Shafique's wicket when he drove to short cover shortly before lunch. There then followed a stand of 92-run stand between Masood, who lofted Todd Murphy for a straight six, and Babar with the latter working through a slow start to unfurl some handsome drives.

Babar looked set to make the most of friendly conditions before glancing Buckingham down the leg side and Saud Shakeel paid the price for a tentative shot against Murphy having misread the length. Murphy, who had missed Victoria's last two Sheffield Shield matches with a shoulder problem, was the most expensive of the PM's XI attack as he struggled a little to locate the ideal length, although he did turn a couple past the edge.

Later in the day, Masood and Sarfaraz were able to take advantage against Murphy and the allrounders ahead of the second new ball being taken. However, with the final delivery from the old ball, Buckingham earned his second leg-side wicket of the day courtesy of an outstanding take by Peirson off Sarfaraz's glove.

As had been flagged by captain Nathan McSweeney before the game, Cameron Green was not used with the ball as his workload is managed ahead of the Test series even though he is not expected to feature at the start.

The main interest in the PM's XI side will come when Bancroft, Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw get their chance at the crease with an eye on who could replace David Warner.

PM's XI 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st96MS HarrisCT Bancroft
2nd16CT BancroftMT Renshaw
3rd86MT RenshawC Green
4th120MT RenshawNA McSweeney
5th49BJ WebsterMT Renshaw