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Marsh brothers, Head punish Pakistan A on third day

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Australians 494 for 4 (Mitchell Marsh 162, Shaun Marsh 94, Head 90*) lead Pakistan A 278 by 216 runs

Mitchell Marsh made his second century in as many four-day games as the Australians built on a strong start to dominate Pakistan A on the third day. In all, the Australians added 287 runs on the third day and lost only two wickets – those of the Marsh brothers – and with Travis Head’s unbeaten 90, went 216 runs ahead.

Mitchell and Shaun Marsh, who already added 103 overnight, went on to add a further 104 on the third day as they took the Australians into the lead. Against a Pakistan A side that infamously picked no specialist spinners, the pair batted more than 70 overs before Shaun fell six short of a ton.

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But Mitchell, newly named vice-captain of Australia’s Test squad, and perhaps batting at No. 4 because of Matt Renshaw’s absence at the top of the order, pushed another step ahead in what has been a good return from being on the sidelines for five months with an ankle injury. He pushed on to make a hundred and batted quicker than he had on the second day, taking a liking to the part-time offspin of Asad Shafiq who he took for 51 off 53 balls.

Giving company towards the end of his innings was the left-handed Travis Head, whose recent form suggests a Test debut is drawing closer and closer. Head made scores of 87, 68 and 47 in his last three innings against India A in spin-friendly conditions and added to that run by finishing the third day unbeaten on 90. Head hasn’t scored a first-class century since March 2017 and finds himself ten short of the milestone after batting 200 balls for his 90. He’s the fourth Australian batsman to make a 50-plus score in the match.

Unbeaten alongside him, on 39, is Queensland’s Marnus Labuschagne, who hit three fours and a six to score more than half the runs in a fifth-wicket stand worth 87.

Pakistan A spinners Ifthikar Ahmed and Shafiq bowled 54 overs between themselves for a wicket, while left-arm seamer Waqas Maqsood took the only other wicket to fall on the day. Fast bowlers Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz, the only others bowlers in the team with Test experience, went wicketless on the third day as well.

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