Starc leads way as only rain stops Aussies

Scott Bailey
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CRICKET AUSTRALIA PAKISTAN

Mitchell Starc and Tim Paine celebrate another wicket as rain falls in the second Test

Mitchell Starc avenged his Ashes disappointment to put Australia within seven wickets of a big win over Pakistan in the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval.

Starc took six wickets in the first innings and one in the second as only rain stopped Australia's charge on Sunday, with Pakistan 3-39 and still needing 248 more to make the hosts bat again.

Further rain is forecast for day four before play, but it is expected to dry in the afternoon and on Tuesday, leaving an Australian 2-0 series win appearing a mere formality.

After Starc ripped through Pakistan's top order on Saturday night under lights with the pink ball, he took the key wicket of Babar Azam for 97 on Sunday afternoon.

His figures of 6-66 were the second best of his career, and the best since he skittled Sri Lanka in his dominant 2016 series on the road.

It helped Australia knock over Pakistan for 302, and allowed Tim Paine to become the first Aussie captain to enforce the follow-on in four years.

"I've always tried to keep it simple through my cricket," Starc said.

"I got in a really clear mindset after the first Shield game of the summer where I tinkered with a few things.

"I've been doing a bit of work with (bowling coach) Andre (Adams) back in NSW just to get those positive feelings and a clear mindset and it seemed to pay off."

Josh Hazlewood then stood up in his 50th Test, removing Babar in the second innings for nine and Imam-ul-Haq caught behind for a duck.

However, the Australians were far from perfect on Sunday, with spinner Yasir Shah becoming Pakistan's oldest player to score a maiden Test century.

Australia missed six chances to remove him in the field - including four catches, a run out and a stumping - as Pakistan added 206 to their overnight total of 6-96.

The 33-year-old eventually perished on 113, the last man out when Pat Cummins had him caught swatting away at one on the legside boundary.

Cummins finished with 3-83 to become the first bowler to reach 50 wickets this year.

But Starc was by far and away Australia's best after David Warner's 325 in their first innings helped them to 3-589 declared.

Picked for just one Test during the Ashes and after a poor home summer last year, the 29-year-old has made slight changes to his action but still mixed both pace and discipline in Adelaide.

"It seems to help me a bit more consistent," Starc said.

"Finding a happy medium is what's resulted in the technical change to still getting myself in positions where I am more compact (in the action) and less can go wrong.

"It's about a little bit of that focus as well as a little bit of air-speed focus as well"

Six of his seven wickets across both innings came from edges outside off stump, while his other was an lbw that would have cannoned into middle and off.

He went within a whisker of a Test hat-trick, when he followed up his dismissal of Babar with another one of Shaheen Shah Afridi the next ball.

But he was then denied when Mohammad Abbas (29) had a leading edge fall safe.