Harris shines with ton as Pakistan’s injury woes mount

Victoria opener Marcus Harris has scored a timely century in the two-day practice match against Pakistan

Marcus Harris sent a timely reminder to national selectors after pounding a century against Pakistan, whose tour went from tough to worse ahead of the NRMA Insurance Boxing Day Test.

Harris smashed 126 from only 131 balls as a makeshift Victorian team made up mainly of second-stringers had the better of Pakistan on the final day of their two-day tour match at St Kilda's Junction Oval.

That came as a second series-ending injury to one of the tourists' bowlers in the space of 48 hours was confirmed, with back-up spinner Noman Ali revealed to have undergone surgery on Saturday for acute appendicitis.

Neither Noman nor speedster Khurram Shahzad, whose tour was also confirmed as being over due to a rib stress fracture on Thursday, featured as the Victoria XI raced to 272 from 59 overs in reply to the tourists' 8-323.

Harris sends timely reminder with dominant 164

First-choice leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed was also missing due to a leg injury.

Harris, one of the contenders along with Cameron Green, Matthew Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft to replace David Warner when he retires after the Pakistan series, scored his second century of the summer after his 164 against Tasmania last month.

The 31-year-old averages 78.50 on the easy-paced Junction Oval pitch, having hit six hundred in 10 first-class matches there, and again cashed in as Pakistan struggled to make breakthroughs.

Uncapped 22-year-old rookie Dylan Brasher (79no off 105 balls) shared in a 151-run third-wicket partnership with Harris and was closing in on a ton when the innings was called to an end on Saturday afternoon.

The modest returns from the Pakistanis, in addition to their latest fitness concerns, left Shan Masood's men with more questions than answers following the practice match they arranged only days before the first Test in Perth.

Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali, the fast-bowling frontrunners to replace Khurram at the MCG, took a wicket apiece but struggled to contain the Vics as they went at 5.31 and 4.42 per over respectively.

Shaheen Shah Afridi had Will Pucovski chopping on the previous evening but was also expensive, finishing with 1-37 from eight overs on what was a good batting wicket.

Sajid Khan, the only fit specialist spinner left in the squad, eventually dismissed Harris after the left-hander had hit 22 boundaries and a six.

After a sporting declaration from captain Peter Handscomb, Pakistan were then reduced to 3-57 before the close of play.  

Skipper Masood, who sat out the opening day's play, opened in the second innings but made just six before he was out caught behind attempting a cut shot.

Wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed was dismissed for a second time in two days (finishing with scores of 35 and 10) and could come under pressure from Mohammad Rizwan, who was retired out after scoring 50 off 70 on day one.

Sarfaraz was victim of a good catch by teenage paceman Tyler Pearson, who then picked up the prized scalp of Abdullah Shafique before stumps.

The most encouraging signs for Pakistan came from incumbents Saud Shakeel, who scored 70 off 87 before he too was retired out, and spinning allrounder Salman Ali Agha, who was stumped after making 51.

The match was closed to media and spectators.

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

First Test: Australia won by 360 runs

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (10.30am AEDT)

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner

Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi