SYDNEY: Australia’s potential openers are yet to make a big statement against Pakistan in the race to replace the retiring David Warner.

Batting for the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka Oval on Thursday, Marcus Harris (49) and Cameron Bancroft (53) made starts but didn’t go on with the job as their side finished day two at 149-2.

They are replying to Pakistan’s 391-9 declared, highlighted by skipper Shan Masood’s brilliant unbeaten 201 in his side’s only warm-up match before the three-Test series against Australia starting in Perth next week.

Shan, having resumed on 156, smashed 14 fours and six and looked like a man on a mission, displaying little emotion when he reached his double-century to set the tone for his side in his first innings since assuming the captaincy.

South Australian quick Jordan Buckingham took 5-80, removing Aamir Jamal and Mir Hamza, who both went out cheaply on a pitch offering little to the bowlers, on Thursday.

Shan declared the innings after Khurram Shahzad was run out courtesy of a direct hit by Nathan McSweeney.

“I’m in a good headspace as a player, as a person, and hopefully I can continue like this,” Shan told reporters after stumps, adding the fact he’s tried to simplify his game has helped him over the recent years.

“It helps you reach milestones when your technique, form and fitness are in control and your work ethics are good.”

He said his side had achieved “positive things” over the last few days and that it will help them do well in the Test series.

“Our focus is to hit the good areas while bowling … I think we did well today,” he said.

Billed as a “bat-off” to replace David Warner, Bancroft and Harris got the nod to open ahead of Matt Renshaw, who is also a contender to fill the void left by the veteran when he retires.

Warner has indicated he plans to quit the longer format after the third Test against Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January, his home venue.

Bancroft, best known for his role in the notorious “Sandpaper-gate” ball-tampering scandal in 2018, was patient in building a half-century before he was trapped lbw by Khurram Shahzad.

Harris, who has been in and around the Test side since his debut in 2018, fell short of his 50 when caught by Shahzad at mid-off from the spin of Abrar Ahmed.

Renshaw was not out 18 and Cameron Green was unbeaten on 19.

Harris, who’s played 14 Tests and regularly been with the Australian side as a back-up batter, later said he believes he’s done enough for a recall to the team.

But the Victorian laughed off the idea one innings should define his future with the national side, saying “seven or eight years of good cricket” was far more relevant.

“I’ve been in this position for the last few years now, so if it comes down to one game, then so be it,” he told reporters. “Probably ever since I’ve moved to Victoria, I’ve felt I’ve proved myself enough, especially in domestic cricket.

“Whether or not in international cricket, that’s up for debate and other people’s opinions … my last couple of Tests I felt like I was just starting to get going and then things out of my control didn’t go my way.”

Bancroft entered fresh from making a mountain of runs at Sheffield Shield level — 512 at an average of 57 — while Renshaw is also trying to bat his way back into national team contention after being usurped in the Test side by Mitchell Marsh.

He could also play a part in replacing Warner, who is set to retire from the Test arena after the Pakistan series, if any of Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne or Travis Head are moved up the order to open.

Quizzed on his thoughts about a makeshift opener filling the specialist role, Harris pointed to how tough the job can be.

“It’s a good debate … you’d have to ask [the selectors] what they want to do, it’s up to them,” he said. “Opening the batting is not the easiest thing in the world but … they’ve probably got a bit of time before they have to make that decision.”


PAKISTAN (1st Innings):

Abdullah Shafique c Bancroft b Steketee 38

Imam ul-Haq c Peirson b Buckingham 9

Shan Masood not out 201

Babar Azam c Peirson b Buckingham 40

Saud Shakeel b Murphy 13

Sarfraz Ahmed c Peirson b Buckingham 41

Faheem Ashraf c Bancroft b McAndrew 17

Aamir Jamal c Peirson b Buckingham 5

Mir Hamza c Renshaw b Buckingham 8

Khurram Shahzad run out 6

EXTRAS (LB-9, W-1, NB-3) 13

TOTAL (for nine wickets decl, 116.2 overs) 391

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-18 (Imam), 2-76 (Abdullah), 3-168 (Babar), 4-214 (Saud), 5-287 (Sarfraz), 6-324 (Faheem), 7-341 (Aamer), 8-363 (Hamza), 9-391 (Khurram)

DID NOT BAT: Abrar Ahmed

BOWLING: Steketee 23-2-58-1 (1w, 2nb), McAndrew 25-2-68-1, Buckingham 23-4-80-5 (1nb), Murphy 29-2-110-1, Webster 12-2-45-0,t McSweeney 4-0-21-0, Renshaw 0.2-0-0-0

PRIME MINISTER’S XI (1st Innings):

C. Bancroft lbw Khurram 53

M. Harris c Khurram b Abrar 49

M. Renshaw not out 18

C. Green not out 19

EXTRAS (B-7, LB-2, NB-1) 10

TOTAL (for two wickets, 60 overs) 149

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-96 (Harris), 2-112 (Bancroft)

STILL TO BAT: N. McSweeney, B. Webster, J. Peirson, N. McAndrew, T. Murphy, M. Steketee, J. Buckingham

BOWLING: Hamza 10-1-25-0, Khurram 11-2-23-1 (1nb), Abrar 19-0-54-1, Faheem 9-2-13-0, Aamir 7-2-17-0, Babar 1-0-1-0, Saud 3-0-7-0

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