Pakistan’s preparations for a three-Test series against Australia have wrapped a day early after a freak weather event battered Canberra.
Potential Test opener Matt Renshaw was 136 not out overnight with the PM’s XI trailing Pakistan heading into the last dayMany Canberrans lost power in the overnight storm, featuring rain, high winds and lightningThe first Test between Australia and Pakistan starts in Perth on Thursday
A massive electrical storm hit the region at around 8pm on Friday, with 55kph winds blowing off the covers over the Manuka Oval pitch and exposing it to driving rain.
Clean-up is continuing across Canberra after thousands of homes lost power, with Evoenergy expecting blackouts to continue well into the day, when temperatures are forecast to top 37 degrees.
Umpires and captains inspected the pitch late on Saturday morning and called the game off over safety concerns.
The contest was already headed for a draw, but the abandonment denied potential Test opener Matt Renshaw the chance to build on his unbeaten 136 as he pressed his case to the national selectors.
The Prime Minister’s XI trailed Pakistan by 24 runs at 4-367 heading into the final day’s play, with the tourists’ back-up bowling corps failing to make an impact over nearly two long days in the field.
Pakistan’s top order performed well batting first, with captain Shan Masood’s 201 not out an encouraging the tourists can perhaps stand up to Australia’s elite bowlers.
The tourists will now head to Perth, where the series against Australia gets underway on Thursday.
Pakistan’s first-choice pace attack of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim are expected to be named for the first Test, although there is work to do to finalise their line-up after an injury to spinner Abrar Ahmed.
He is almost certainly ruled out of the contest, with 37-year-old Noman Ali the only other spinner in the squad.
At Manuka Oval, umpire Donovan Koch said work would need to be done on an alternate strip expected to be used for a Big Bash League match between the Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat on Tuesday night.
“The pitch … is wet, the surrounding is wet and our main concern is actually the BBL pitch, it’s two strips down from the playing pitch where there’s a game on Tuesday night,” he told Fox Cricket.
“We’re going to take a cautious approach, we’ve got a Test team that we don’t want to cause any injuries to, and we’ve got a few BBL players in the [PM’s XI] team as well.”
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