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Misbah's fastest ton bring Pakistan close to series win

ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq rewrote record books with the fastest half-century and equalling the fastest hundred as Pakistan were six wickets away from winning the second Test and their first series against Australia in 20 years. 

Australia, chasing 603 to win or bat for the whole fifth and final day to draw, were 143/4 at close on the fourth day in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. 

Steven Smith (38) and Mitchell Marsh (26) were at the crease as Australia still need another 460 runs. Pakistan are well placed for a 2-0 whitewash, their first series defeat against Australia since their 1-0 win at home in 1994. 

It was Misbah's day who surprisingly changed opinions about his slow style of batting. 

Misbah smashed a 56-ball hundred, equalling West Indian legend Sir Viv Richards's record made against England at Antigua in 1986, minutes after breaking the mark for the fastest fifty, which he made off just 21 balls at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. 

Misbah's stunning blitz set up Pakistan to declare their second innings at 293/3, setting a daunting 603-run target for Australia who suffered another batting collapse before reaching 143/4 at stumps on the fourth day. 

Misbah said it was an honour to be bracketed with Richards. 

"I think it's the biggest honour for me," said Misbah. "I am nowhere near him (Richards) and scoring a hundred in as many deliveries as he did is something I will always remember in my life. 

"I didn't know about the record of fastest hundred but someone from the team told me and I got to know about it. It’s great to have this record." 

Australia's woes with the bat continued as left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (3-65) struck regular blows by dismissing Chris Rogers (two), Glenn Maxwell (four) and Michael Clarke (five) in 19 balls to leave Australia tottering at 43/3.

Clarke was beaten by a beautiful turner as the Australian captain pushed on the backfoot only to see his stumps disturbed. That summed up Clarke's miserable series with only 57 runs. 

David Warner had held on end intact, reaching his 13th half-century before miscuing a drive off Mohammad Hafeez and was caught for 58. 

Earlier, Misbah – notorious for his slow batting in ODIs – removed all doubts about his credentials.

In all, Misbah hit 11 boundaries and five sixes off 57 balls during his two centuries in the match, a blitz that overshadowed Azhar Ali's feat of 100 not out, making this only the second occasion in Test cricket's history when two batsmen scored a century in each innings in the same match.

Australian brothers Ian and Greg Chappell scored centuries in each innings against New Zealand at Wellington in 1973-4.

Misbah beat the previous record of the fastest half-century held by South Africa's Jacques Kallis scored against Zimbabwe at Cape Town in 2004.

Misbah hit two boundaries off paceman Mitchell Starc to reach his hundred, punched the air in delight and waved his bat to teammates.

This is also the second fastest hundred in terms of time, behind Australia's Jack Gregory who reached a hundred in 70 minutes against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1921.

Misbah took 74 minutes to reach the mark.

Misbah cut loose after Younis Khan fell for 46, hitting three sixes and a four off one Steven Smith over and then hit the spinner for his fourth six an over later.

In all, he hit four boundaries and as many sixes in his fifty. Misbah pushed Starc for three to complete the fastest Test fifty ever, which took only 24 minutes.

The previous fastest fifty in terms of time was held by Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful who took 27 minutes for his fifty against India at Dhaka in 2007.

The previous fastest Test half-century by a Pakistani batsman was by Shahid Afridi who took 26 balls to reach the mark, against India at Bangalore in 2005.

Majid Khan previously held the record for the fastest hundred by a Pakistani, scored off 74 balls against New Zealand in Karachi in 1976.