Shan Masood.
Pakistan's Shan Masood celebrates his century on day one against the PM's XI in Canberra. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
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‘Flawless’ Masood fires Pakistan in Test series warm-up

Alex Mitchell December 6, 2023

New Pakistan captain Shan Masood has fired a warning shot to Australia’s bowling corps with a brilliant unbeaten century in their tour match in Canberra.

Against the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka Oval, Masood made a big statement in his first innings since assuming the captaincy, stylishly cruising to 156 not out as the tourists finished day one at 6-324.

South Australian speedster Jordan Buckingham was the pick of the PM’s bowlers and finished with 3-63 off 17 overs, delivering just days after being called into the side to replace injured Michael Neser.

Masood’s knock drew gushing plaudits from both camps after stumps, his teammate Abdullah Shafique admitting his captain’s classy innings inspired the rest of the side.

Shan Masood.
 Pakistan’s Shan Masood plays a cut shot on day one against the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka Oval. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

“As a senior batter you need to step up for your team … he did, and this is a confidence-boosting thing for all of the team,” he told reporters.

“He played a brilliant innings, there is something for us all to learn as a batter from his innings.

“This momentum is good for today, but we will have to keep improving things.”

Buckingham agreed, declaring Masood’s innings was “flawless”.

“He played brilliantly, the wicket was obviously conducive to batting but he’s still got to get out there and get the runs,” he told reporters.

“For him to barely give us a chance, it was an outstanding innings and he’d be in for a pretty good summer.”

But cheap wickets prevented the tourists from an even more dominant day with the bat, with Manuka’s flat pitch and hot conditions offering little respite for bowlers.

Star man Babar Azam (40), Shafique (38) and Saud Shakeel (13) all got starts before lazy dismissals stopped them cashing in, the sort of play that will cost them dearly when they face world Test champions Australia in Perth starting next week.

Jordan Buckingham.
 The PM XI’s Jordan Buckingham celebrates one of his three wickets against Pakistan in Canberra. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

Buckingham removed the opener Imam-ul-Haq for nine, with a beautiful delivery that jagged back off a length and found an inside edge.

“It was certainly a tough grind, we’d have liked to have maybe got a few breakthroughs earlier when the ball was nipping around a little bit,” he said.

“Six wickets, we would probably have taken that about halfway through the day.

“Obviously we’ll try and get the wickets as early as possible (on Thursday) and have the bowlers get their feet up there and let the batters do their work.”

Six-Test spinner Murphy (1-90 off 22 overs) wasn’t at his best, bowling too short at times.

Masood, who was handed the leadership in the wake of Pakistan’s World Cup exit last month, looked extremely determined throughout his knock and barely celebrated at the 100 or 150-marks.

The battle to become Australia’s next Test opener was put on hold when Masood won the toss and chose to bat.

The three-way ‘bat-off’ between Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw is set to highlight the clash, with each a contender to take David Warner’s spot once the veteran opener retires this summer.

Bancroft, who tops the Sheffield Shield run-scoring stats this season after finishing as best batter last term, will open for the PM’s side with Harris, who’s played 14 Tests for Australia.