It has been a nightmarish run for ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah in Pakistan's struggling campaign Down Under. Despite being the highest wicket-taker from the lot, Yasir conceded 402 runs in three innings against Australia in the two-match series with just four wickets. His only highlight until Sunday afternoon was his dismissal of Steve Smith at the Gabba last week, which accounted his seventh overall dismissal of the former Aussie skipper.
However, on Sunday at the Adelaide, Yasir led Pakistan's lower-order resilience that delayed Australia's decision to enforce a follow-on before the hosts eventually pushed. And en route to Pakistan's lower-order dominance, Yasir notched up his maiden first-class century before being the last man to depart, for 113.
With Mitchell Starc wreaking havoc of the Pakistan batting lineup as the visitors dropped low to 89 for six in 32 overs, skipper Babar Azam found unlikely and much-required assistance from Yasir, who walked in at No.8.. The pair managed to keep Australia's pace attack at bay en route their 105-run stand -- the best seventh-wicket stand for Pakistan against the Aussies. Babar, who started the day on 43, reached his second half-century-plus score on the tour with an elegant whip off Josh Hazlewood. Against the pacers, he favoured the on-side and was brutal against Marnus Labuschangne. However, he failed to get to his century, departing for 97 after edging Starc to the wicketkeeper.
Yasir continued the battle after resuming the second session on 66. Well, he did have a couple of anxious moments with Labuschagne dropping a couple of dollies and Tim Paine failing to stump him out. But Yasir made his chances count and eventually carved out a gritty century, his first in first-class cricket and first by a Pakistan batsman batting at No.8 since 2006. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was the last No.8 batsman from Pakistan to score a Test century -- his 113 against India in Karachi. Yasir is the ninth Pakistani to achieve this feat and seventh for a batsman No.8 or lower to score a ton against Australia.
What makes Yasir's century even more interesting is that he has a career batting average of just 14.06 (even after the century) -- the second-lowest for a batsman in Test cricket to have a century to his name. Only Jerome Taylor (12.96) has a lower career batting average than Yasir's while scoring a century.
On the other hand, while Yasir has failed to put up a show with his bowling, averaging over 100 in this series, his batting average on the tour is 60.33. He scored 26 and 42 in the opener in Brisbane.
"Ya feeling good because this is my first hundred in Test cricket. Babar Azam really motivated me, he told me you look like a batsman and just stay on the wicket. There is lot of pressure when you are on 99 for the first time. Our batsman didn't play well in the first innings but hopefully, we will come back in this match," he said after his century.
From 89 for 6, Yasir's heroics guided Pakistan to 302-all-out with him being the last batsman to depart. Australia eventually enforced the follow-on.