At stumps on day four, Australia had reached 136-3 in their second innings with Usman Khawaja and Travis Head unbeaten at the crease.
The hosts resumed on Wednesday on 45-3 in their second innings. Australia took three wickets before lunch with the hosts declaring at 181-6 in the post-lunch session for a target of 462 on a deteriorating pitch.
Aussie openers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch started well in the chase, taking the score to 87 before seamer Mohammad Abbas removed Finch and Shaun Marsh in one over. He then got Mitchell Marsh lbw with the score still on 87. Since then, Khawaja and Travis Head have held fort for Australia by keeping the Pakistan bowlers at bay.
New T20 leagues and ventures like T10 cricket are likely to find it tougher to get sanctions from the International Cricket Council in the future, while Test minnows like Afghanistan and Ireland can expect to play four-day Tests.
ICC general manager Geoff Allardice made the revelations during an interaction with media at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The 2016 Masters Champions League in the UAE folded after just one season, following serious financial troubles resulted in players not getting paid. The T10 edition in Sharjah also came under the scanner after some questions were raised about its viability.
While the 10-over competition has ICC’s approval and is set to return later this year in the UAE, Allardice said in future, such ventures will find it tougher to get the go ahead from cricket’s ruling body.
“One of the things we are talking about is the sanctioning of events and release of players. (ICC) Look at documentation and ownership structures and how the league is going to be funded and then provide approval,” Allardice said on Wednesday.
“How it rolls out after that is in the hands of the owners. What happens next time is if there is dissatisfaction among players, players won’t go back and the future of the league is in jeopardy. If we (ICC) get reports that that sort a thing happens, the likelihood of sanctioning the second edition is significantly reduced,” the 51-year-old said.
“The hurdles to jump for a promoter to put on a league are going to be higher. The vetting process by hosts and the ICC will be enhanced.
“It is a balance as league can be good vehicles. There was a tournament in Canada (Global T20 Canada), there is not a lot of league cricket in Canada. So that could be a good step. But the league has to be good for the game, the players must be looked after and there must be some legacy for cricket in the country. It’s not going to be an open door for any promoter to come in. It’s going to be harder to get sanctions in the future.”
The other big issue in the game is the fate of Test cricket with four-day matches being suggested as a possible next step. South Africa played Zimbabwe in a four-day Test last year that ended in two days.
Allardice said that while it is an attractive option, the newly-formed World Test Championship (beginning in 2019) will continue to be a five-day affair while matches between ‘main’ teams and new entrants like Afghanistan and Ireland outside the Championship can be four-day affairs.
“In terms of Test cricket moving forward, all matches of the World Test Championship are scheduled over five days,” the former Victoria first-class cricketer added.
“At the moment, (it’s about) trying to get opportunities for Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in Test cricket against teams that are in the Test championship, from a fixturing point of view that works out better over four days than five.”
Allardice, however, doesn’t think four-day Tests will devalue the game as it is not a new concept.
“In terms of devaluing the game, regular five-day Tests is a relatively recent thing. If you go to the 1970s, New Zealand were playing mostly four-day Test matches. You talk of devaluing Test cricket, there is a lot of history that wasn’t based around the five-day game. The percentage was reasonable, we had rest days in the past. The game has evolved. We should not see in a narrow snapshot of time.”
England are preparing to hand Olly Stone a debut as they begin their winter travels with a one-day international in Dambulla.
The Warwickshire paceman has impressed during his first week with the senior international squad and looks set to make the XI for the first of five ODIs in Sri Lanka.
Stone, who turned 25 on Tuesday, sent down six lively overs in England’s only warm-up match and has impressed enough in nets to nudge himself into the team.
With Liam Plunkett having been excused for the first three games of the series to get married, Stone is seen as the best like-for-like replacement and will bring some extra pace to the touring team.
Vice-captain Jos Buttler, who kept wicket to the seamer in Colombo last week, said: “He’s hitting the gloves hard, I thought he was impressive.
“The guys facing him in the nets said it wasn’t that enjoyable. He’s obviously had a great season and come back really well from injury. I think he is a really exciting prospect.
“They (Stone and Plunkett) perform a pretty similar role: a big, tall guy with a lot of pace.”
Elsewhere in the side Alex Hales looks set to be the odd man out at the top of the order, amid reports he has agreed a controversial deal to play in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Hales, alongside captain Eoin Morgan, declined to tour the country in 2016 on security grounds but has now been linked with a lucrative franchise stint in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
England’s selection plans will not have been affected by the link, with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow always considered the likelier opening pair on this trip.
The final place in the side may not be decided until the pitch is revealed, with paceman Mark Wood and third-choice spinner Liam Dawson vying for one slot.
Whatever happens, Morgan’s place is not under any imminent danger. Despite that, the Dubliner took the unusual step of suggesting he would not be afraid to axe himself if it improved the team’s chances at next summer’s home World Cup.
Morgan told Sky Sports Cricket: “When you drop yourself as captain it almost sets that example, that nobody’s place is cemented in this side.
“If I’m not supposed to be in the team I’ll be the first one to say it. If it means making a tough decision I’m more than capable of doing that.
“It’s a brave call, but we’ve come a long way with this team. We need to put ourselves in the best position in order to be contenders. If that means I’m not good enough to be in the team, both as a captain or as a player…I’m a pretty honest guy.”