No play was possible on day four of the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka due to a wet outfield at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Only 32 balls were bowled on Friday due to overnight rain and bad light, after just 18.2 overs of action for the same reasons on the second day.

There was further frustration on Saturday, with play called off at midday due to more bad weather in Rawalpindi.

Sri Lanka were due to resume on 282-6 in the only innings of the match so far, Dhananjaya de Silva unbeaten on 87.

The first Test in Pakistan for a decade is destined to end in a draw.

Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood will not bowl for the remainder of the first Test against New Zealand in Perth.

Hazlewood suffered a hamstring strain during day two and Australia confirmed on Saturday the 28-year-old would not bowl for the rest of the Test.

He bowled just eight deliveries, taking the wicket of Jeet Raval (1), before the injury.

Matthew Wade was used for two overs by Australia, who had reduced New Zealand to 129-6 in response to their 416 to begin day three.

Both teams are a bowler down for the Test, with Lockie Ferguson having suffered a calf strain on day one for the Black Caps.

Steve Smith produced a stunning one-handed catch to remove Kane Williamson on the second day of Australia's first Test against New Zealand, though Mitchell Starc always expected his brilliant team-mate to take the chance.

Starc finished with 4-31 from 11 overs at stumps as the Black Caps were reduced to 109-5 in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 416.

While Ross Taylor will resume on 66 not out on Saturday, Australia have already got the key wicket of Williamson, who fell for 34 when Starc and Smith combined in spectacular fashion.

Former Australia captain Smith flung out his right hand to take a remarkable diving grab at second slip, not that the bowler of the delivery shared the crowd's amazement.

"Unfortunately for him, you sort of expect that from Steve," Starc explained to reporters.

"He's done that a few times. It was fantastic to create that buzz in the crowd and certainly out on the ground for us.

"The big wicket of Kane - being the captain as well - to hang onto him was a big moment in tonight's session.

"It was a fantastic catch, and it's always nice to see the boys hang on."

Starc added: "It happens pretty quick. It was a special grab.

"He's such a good player, whether it be with bat or in the field, you almost, unfortunately for him, expect that he's going to hold onto those nine times out of 10."

It was not all plain sailing for the hosts, who lost Josh Hazlewood to a suspected hamstring injury after he had bowled just eight balls - one of which clattered into opener Jeet Raval's stumps.

The extent of Hazlewood's problem is due to be confirmed on Saturday, with Starc already facing up to the possibility of Australia being one bowler down for at least the remainder of this Test.

"It's never nice seeing anyone go down, especially one of your best mates," Starc added.

"I'm not sure how those scans have come back, hopefully there's some positivity out of that. I guess it makes it tough now with a bowler down. It was for the Kiwis with [Lockie] Ferguson going down.

"The plus side is we've got them five down tonight and hopefully for Josh it's not too bad and, if it is going to keep him out for the rest of the week, it's not too big a break to get that hammy right."

Starc shone with the pink ball in the day-night Test, though admitted he still prefers all-day matches.

Asked whether he wanted all Tests to be day-night encounters given his performance, Starc replied: "Nope. Don't overdo it, I'd say.

"It's great for cricket but I'm still a traditionalist at heart. Don't take too many away from the red-ball game."

Mitchell Starc put Australia in command in the absence of Josh Hazlewood while Steve Smith took a sensational catch to leave New Zealand in big trouble on day two of the first Test.

Marnus Labuschagne fell for 143 after making his third consecutive Test century on the opening day at Perth Stadium, and Travis Head struck 56 in Australia's 416 all out.

Neil Wagner (4-92) and Tim Southee (4-93) stepped up again with Black Caps debutant Lockie Ferguson unable bowl due to a calf injury sustained on Thursday.

New Zealand lost both openers inside two overs of their reply, but their trans-Tasman rivals suffered a big blow when Hazlewood ambled off with a suspected hamstring injury after dismissing Jeet Raval. 

Starc came to the fore late in the day-night contest on Friday, Smith diving to remove Williamson (34) in spectacular fashion as the left-arm paceman took 4-31 to reduce the tourists to 109-5 at stumps.

Ross Taylor will resume on Saturday unbeaten on 66 with New Zealand trailing by 307 and BJ Watling yet to get off the mark.

Labuschagne put away a couple of glorious drives after Australia resumed on 248-4, but Wagner ended his fifth-wicket stand of 76 with Travis Head by bowling the in-form number three around his legs.

Head looked in great touch in a positive knock, finding the boundary frequently before driving Southee to Mitchell Santner in the covers.

The Black Caps bowled with discipline after lunch, and Raval, used more than he would have anticipated in the absence of Ferguson, dismissed Pat Cummins for 20.

Starc added a brisk 30, smashing Santner for six over long-on, and captain Tim Paine a patient 39 before both were dismissed by Southee, with Australia all out on the stroke of tea.

New Zealand got off to a nightmare start to their reply under the lights, Tom Latham caught and bowled by Starc without scoring in the first over and Hazlewood cleaning up Raval with only his fourth ball.

Taylor joined Williamson at the crease with the tourists in the mire on 1-2, and they would have been relieved to see Hazlewood walk off after pulling up in his second over.

The current and former captain had to contend with some hostile short stuff from Cummins and Starc, but they weathered the storm under pressure and Taylor struck Nathan Lyon for three boundaries in an over.

There was no review from Australia when Williamson appeared to feather Cummins behind, but Smith took off to his right to grab a stunning one-handed catch to remove the prolific skipper - ending a stand of 76.

Although Taylor brought up a hard-earned half-century, Starc strangled Henry Nicholls caught behind down the leg side and generated late swing to bowl nightwatchman Wagner first ball in a great spell to leave New Zealand on the ropes.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka were again frustrated by the weather as only 32 balls were bowled on day three of the first Test at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Just 18.2 overs were possible on the second day in Rawalpindi, and a combination of a wet outfield following overnight rain and bad light left the players kicking their heels again on Friday.

Dhananjaya de Silva moved on to 87 not out in the afternoon session after a wet outfield put paid to any action before lunch, but the umpires brought the players off in the gloom with Sri Lanka 282-6.

They did not return after tea on another cold, miserable day, with Dilruwan Perera unbeaten on six and Dhananjaya unable to press on to complete a sixth Test century.

The first Test in Pakistan for a decade is almost certainly heading for a draw.

New Zealand have been dealt a blow with Lockie Ferguson unable to bowl for the rest of the first Test against Australia due to a calf strain.

Making his Test debut, Ferguson suffered the injury on day one in Perth on Thursday.

The paceman had bowled 11 overs for figures of 0-47, but that will be the end of his involvement with the ball in the series opener.

"INJURY UPDATE: An MRI scan has confirmed a right calf muscle-tendon strain for Lockie Ferguson which will prevent him bowling in the remainder of the 1st Test, although he is available to bat," the Black Caps wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"Awaiting a further report which will inform the next steps of his recovery."

Australia finished the day at 248-4 after Marnus Labuschagne made an unbeaten 110.

Marnus Labuschagne says "riding the wave" has been the key to his success after the Australia batsman scored a third consecutive Test century on day one of the series against New Zealand.

Labuschagne's purple patch continued on a slow-scoring deck in Perth, the number three reaching stumps on 110 not out with Australia 248-4 in the day-night encounter.

Don Bradman and Charles Macartney are the only other Australians to have scored three successive hundreds in the longest format.

Labuschagne also became the fourth-fastest Australian to score 1,000 Test runs and the number three says staying in the moment has enabled him to spend so much time in the middle.

"No hundred is easy, but today there was definitely patches where scoring really dried up completely and you just had to be patient and trust you were going to come out the other side," said the 25-year-old.

"It's about riding the wave, not trying to get too high when you are going well, keep everything consistent, keep it process-driven in terms of your mind.

"It's great to get runs, but just making sure you are doing your routines, keeping that clear mind on the field and from there you're just playing the ball as it comes. It's making sure you put a real high price on decision making."

Test debutant Lockie Ferguson went for a scan after suffering a calf injury on a searing hot day and Labuschagne says Australia must try and make the tourists' bowlers suffer in the field if they are a bowler short.

"I think one of the boys said when we came back in that he [Ferguson] pulled up with an injury, but me and [Steve] Smith didn't even know," the centurion said.

"It's a massive advantage they do have an all-rounder [Colin de Grandhomme] in their side, so that probably does lighten the load but it's a massive advantage if we can really bat well tomorrow and keep them out there.

"Batters, we've just got to keep putting runs on the board and with our world-class bowling attack, it gives them the upper hand."

Neil Wagner said New Zealand can only cross their fingers and hope debutant Lockie Ferguson has not bowled his last ball in the first Test against Australia.

The Black Caps paceman pulled up with a calf injury on day one at Perth Stadium after bowling just 11 overs.

Ferguson went for an MRI scan to discover the extent of the damage, leaving the tourists a bowler down as Marnus Labuschagne (110 not out) made a third consecutive Test century.

Wagner, who took 2-52 as Australia closed on 248-4 in the day-night contest, felt for Ferguson as New Zealand wait to discover how serious his injury is.

The seamer said: "It's gutting, isn't it. It's pretty heartbreaking and I know he'll be devastated.

"We'll all get right behind him and hopefully it's not too bad. We haven't heard anything back yet so hopefully it's good, or better news than what everyone is expecting."

Wagner added: "Hopefully we'll find out [the results] pretty soon. Fingers crossed it's not too bad, he's a quality player and we would have loved to have seen him bowl more."

New Zealand, already without left-arm seamer Trent Boult due to a side strain, will assess Ferguson's fitness prior to Friday's play in the series opener.

 

Marnus Labuschagne continued his stunning form with a third straight Test century as Australia made a strong start against New Zealand in Perth.

After winning the toss, Australia ended Thursday on 248-4 in the day-night contest, which is the first of three Test matches between the teams.

When he was on 95, Labuschagne, who had gone past 1,000 runs in only his 12th Test earlier in the innings, smashed a six off Mitchell Santner over long on.

He calmly saw out the day from there, finishing on 110 not out from 202 deliveries with 14 boundaries and that one maximum, and will return on day two alongside Travis Head (20no).

Labuschagne's exploits came after he recorded scores of 185 and 162 against Pakistan last month.

Neil Wagner (2-52) provided the main resistance for New Zealand, who lost Test debutant Lockie Ferguson to a calf injury and will hope the problem is not serious after being a bowler light for the final 22 overs.

Opener Joe Burns rued his decision not to appeal after being given out lbw to Colin de Grandhomme for just nine in the 13th over, replays showing the delivery would have missed leg stump.

David Warner could not replicate his epic partnership with Labuschagne from the Pakistan series as he fell for 43, sending a low full toss back to bowler Wagner, who dived forward to take a key scalp.

It meant Warner remains tantalisingly short of Don Bradman's Test haul of 6,966 runs, now six adrift.

But Labuschagne did find a partner in Steve Smith, the pair putting on 132 for the third wicket.

That crucial partnership should have been thwarted only for Smith to be dropped by Tom Latham at second slip off the bowling of Ferguson while on 19, Ross Taylor unable to gather the rebound.

Smith eventually fell for 43, though he had occupied the crease for 164 balls by the time Wagner had him caught by Southee.

New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it became available and Southee claimed his first wicket when he bowled Matthew Wade for 12, a superb in-swinging delivery doing the job.

Head survived an lbw appeal and a dangerous moment where he inside-edged past his own leg stump, but he gained in confidence from there and ended the day with four boundaries.

Labuschagne was the constant presence at the other end and he will have his sights set on a huge score as Australia's patience approach gave them the edge after an intriguing first day.

Dhananjaya de Silva was moving towards making a century for the second Test running when bad light halted play on a heavily disrupted second day as Pakistan hosted Sri Lanka.

An early rain delay and bad light before the close meant only 18.2 overs of play was possible in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Sri Lanka used the available time to increase their first-innings total from 202-5 to 263-6, with Dhananjaya still unbeaten on 72 runs from 131 balls.

He reached his fifty in 94 deliveries and had recorded 11 boundaries when umpires declared no further play was possible.

Dhananjaya also scored a century in his last Test outing against New Zealand in August.

The only wicket of the day came when Niroshan Dickwella fell for 33 off the bowling of Shaheen Afridi.

Shaheen's involvement was a boost for Pakistan after he left the field with injury on day one, and he removed Dickwella after a good low catch by Babar Azam at gully.

Number eight Dilruwan Perera has two runs and will resume alongside Dhananjaya on day three.

This is Pakistan's first Test in their home country since the 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore.

A return to the England Test team for the upcoming tour of South Africa would have felt too soon, all-rounder Moeen Ali has conceded.

Moeen opted to take a break from the longest format after a chastening experience in the first Ashes Test with Australia at Edgbaston.

He scored only four runs with the bat, suffering the ignominy of twice being undone by fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon, while taking disappointing match figures of 3-172 with the ball.

England went on to draw the five-match series, failing to regain the urn in the process, before losing a two-match series in New Zealand 1-0.

That led to talk of Moeen returning for four Tests in South Africa, but Jack Leach and Matt Parkinson were selected as the slow-bowling options in the 17-man squad.

"It just felt too soon. The past few years have been so full-on and the plan behind my break from Test cricket was to freshen up, enjoy some new environments and get my game back in good order," Moeen wrote in his column for the Guardian.

"That is something that people perhaps don't realise is hard to do when you play all three international formats and particularly so when you are an all-rounder.

"The time away has felt quite liberating. Since my international debut in 2014, the miles on the clock have probably crept up and Test cricket is the level where the pressure and scrutiny are greatest.

"Combining it all had become a bit draining and rushing back now might have seen nothing change in this regard.

"Playing 60 Tests has meant so much to me, especially picking up 181 wickets and five five-wicket hauls, which for a guy who grew up thinking as a batter first is something I never thought possible.

"My batting is where I really want to find form again, though. Five Test centuries suggests I have it in me."

Moeen, who is set to play in the Pakistan Super League for Multan Sultans, did not rule out the possibility of featuring in the tour of Sri Lanka in March next year.

He claimed 18 wickets – the same tally as left-armer Leach - in a 3-0 whitewash in England's last Test series in the country, back in November 2018.

"The back end of the PSL coincides with the Sri Lanka Test tour in March and at this stage it is a tournament I intend to see out," he added. 

"But the franchise's head coach, Andy Flower, is someone I know I can talk to, if and when the England conversation arises again. So let's see what happens."

Graeme Smith has been appointed as South Africa's interim director of cricket.

The former Proteas captain has agreed to take on the role for three months, after which he is due to commentate on the Indian Premier League.

Smith earlier this month denied having taken the job, citing "real concerns" over issues he had raised with Cricket South Africa (CSA), but confirmed he was in discussions with the governing body.

CSA on Wednesday confirmed former opening batman Smith has been instated on a temporary basis.

Smith's appointment comes soon after Jacques Faul took over as CSA acting chief executive following Thabang Moroe's suspension.

Asghar Afghan has been reappointed as Afghanistan captain in all formats, eight months after he was sacked.

Afghan was surprisingly axed in April, less two months before the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales. 

The decision to relieve Afghan of his duties was criticised by some of his team-mates, but the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said they made the decision with an eye on the future.

Gulbadin Naib initially replaced the batsman as ODI skipper, with Rahmat Shah taking over the Test side and Rashid Khan named Twenty20 captain.

Rashid was handed the captaincy in all formats in July, but Afghan was reinstated on Wednesday – a little over two weeks before his 32nd birthday.

Spinner Rashid will be Afghan's deputy after his short reign was brought to an end.

Afghan led his country for four years in his first spell at the helm.

 

Teenager Naseem Shah struck twice as Pakistan fought back well on a bad-light curtailed first day of Test cricket on home soil for a decade after Sri Lanka made a promising start in Rawalpindi.

Sri Lanka were 202-5 when stumps were drawn with 22.5 overs still due to be bowled, 16-year-old pace prodigy Shah taking 2-51.

The tourists lost their way after an opening stand of 96 between Dimuth Karunaratne (59) and Oshada Fernando (40) in the first match in the longest format to be played in Pakistan since a terror attack on their team bus in 2009.

Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 31 runs in the afternoon session, but Dhananjaya de Silva will start day two unbeaten on 38 with rain forecast over the next few days.

Pakistan have an injury concern over Shaheen Afridi after he was injured fielding as they attempt to make up for lost time in a long-awaited home Test series - and their former coach Mickey Arthur's first in charge of Sri Lanka.

Karunaratne's decision to bat first looked wise when he and Oshada set about laying solid foundations, although the captain had a big stroke of luck when debutant Usman Shinwari struck his off stump early on but the bails stayed on. 

Oshada took 20 balls to get off the mark, with Karunaratne playing more fluently in a wicketless opening session that yielded 89 runs, with 57 coming off the skipper's bat.

Pakistan were more disciplined after lunch and got their rewards, Afridi trapping Karunaratne lbw and Oshada edging Afridi to Haris Sohail at first slip. 

Kusal Mendis became paceman Shinwari's first Test victim and recalled former captain Dinesh Chandimal was cleaned up by a peach of a delivery from Mohammad Abbas for only two, with Pakistan on a roll.

Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya showed resistance with a fifth-wicket stand of 62 before the former nicked Shah to Asad Shafiq at second slip attempting an extravagant drive.

Dhananjaya played responsibility and put away loose deliveries with Afridi off the field after doing damage attempting to stop a boundary and Niroshan Dickwella was 11 not out when play was called off for the day.

New Zealand are monitoring Trent Boult's fitness ahead of the first Test against an unchanged Australia side at Perth Stadium.

Boult has been troubled by a side strain and could miss the day-night contest, which starts on Thursday.

Batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle) are set to feature in the first of three Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said of Boult's availability on the eve of the match: "We're going to have another look today before deciding anything for Thursday.

"I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good on Tuesday."

Lockie Ferguson could make his debut in the longest format after the paceman missed out in a 1-0 win over England.

"It’s exciting we've got Lockie in our squad to consider him," said Williamson. "It's exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed."

Australia have gone with the same side that completed a whitewash of Pakistan.

"We've been playing some really good cricket, happy with the way it's going so we're trying to get a consistent team together and as I touched on after Adelaide, the great thing is we've got guys that are performing really well," Australia skipper Tim Paine said.

"That's what we wanted so we're going to go with the same team."

 

 

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