Action between the PM's XI and Pakistan at Manuka Oval.
An overnight storm has brought a premature end to the Prime Minister's XI's clash with Pakistan. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
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Freak Canberra storm ends Pakistan Test build-up early

Alex Mitchell December 9, 2023

Pakistan’s preparations for their three-Test series against Australia have wrapped a day early after a freak weather event battered Canberra.

A massive electrical storm hit the region around 8pm on Friday, with 55km/h winds blowing off the covers over the Manuka Oval pitch and exposing it to driving rain.

Umpires and captains inspected the pitch late on Saturday morning and called the game off over safety concerns, confirming the clash with the Prime Minister’s XI would end in a draw.

The tourists’ top-order missed out on extra time in the middle before Thursday’s Test in Perth, although the form of new skipper Shan Masood (201 not out) and star man Babar Azam (40) looked great in Canberra.

Matt Renshaw bats against Pakistan.
 Matt Renshaw added to his case for national selection with an unbeaten 136 against the tourists. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

But their bowling contingent will be completely different, with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim set to be named after resting.

If they’re to pick a specialist spinner they’ll need to look to 37-year-old Noman Ali, after mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed injured his leg in the tour game.

Australia’s first Test side looks set, although plenty of discussion at the PM’s XI game surrounded who will replace opener David Warner once he retires after the Pakistan series.

The abandonment denied Matt Renshaw the chance to build on his unbeaten 136 and press his case to the national selectors even further, although he batted his way into contention with his patient century.

Contenders Cameron Bancroft (53) and Marcus Harris (49) didn’t turn their starts into big scores, the same fate that met allrounder Cameron Green (46).

Pakistan skipper Shan Masood celebrates his double-century.
 Skipper Shan Masood was 201 not out for Pakistan against the PM’s XI in Canberra. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

PM’s XI captain Nathan McSweeney said Renshaw’s unbeaten 136 off 337 was a pure Test innings, while declaring he was glad he’s not picking Warner’s replacement.

“It was easy to get frustrated out there with some shots you thought should go for four and you’re getting two for it, so the mental strength for him to face as many balls as he did was impressive,” he told reporters.

“That puts him in good stead I guess, along with the other guys, they’ve all batted well, so good luck to the selectors.

“They all have been (ready for Tests) for a while, they’re all quality players who continue to churn out runs in Shield cricket, I don’t think there’s a bad decision to be made.”

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.”