When rain ended day three an hour before stumps, Pakistan was 3-39 in its second innings and still 248 runs in arrears having been forced to follow on.
A series of heavy rain squalls swept the ground during the evening session, the first of them arriving just as luckless Pakistan captain Azhar Ali faced up to Mitchell Starc, and sliced a low catch that was brilliantly snared by Steve Smith at second slip. Starc’s breakthrough came after he had collected 6-66 in Pakistan’s first innings, the second-best figures of his Test career (his best being 6-50 against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2016) and further enhancing his claims to being the game’s foremost pink-ball strike bowler.
Despite his exalted position in Test cricket history, as the bowler to claim 200 wickets in least time, Yasir had endured a wretched first two days when he conceded 197 runs without making a breakthrough.
But afforded a couple of let-offs by the unintended generosity of Australia’s fielders, the 33-year-old – who has been known to open the batting in T20 cricket but habitually resides at number eight or nine in Tests – seized his moment. Yasir might have been stumped from the bowling of Nathan Lyon when 35, having advanced well beyond his crease only to be beaten by a delivery that spun and bounced so sharply keeper Tim Paine was unable to lay glove as it fizzed past his left shoulder.
And he should have been removed for 43 when he slapped a return catch to Marnus Labuschagne that was so routine, the part-time spinner was surely pondering how he might celebrate before the ball was safe in his grip.
Soon after that spilled chance, Yasir lost his specialist batting partner Babar Azam heartbreakingly near to his own historic century, but found sturdy support from unlikely sources even further down the order.
Upon reaching his maiden century, in anxious circumstances when he half-heartedly chipped a ball from Josh Hazlewood beyond the outstretched fingertips of Pat Cummins at mid-on, he unfurled a celebration as gloriously unrehearsed as his 258-minute innings.
Upon completing the career-changing single, Yasir punched the air and dropped to his knees to plant a ceremonial kiss and offer a prayer to the arena where he had created a remarkable cricket memory – without taking a single wicket.
On paper, the 289-run first innings lead that Australia pocketed on the first innings suggests they retained the total dominance gained from the moment Warner took guard last Friday to launch his historic triple-century. In reality, however, there were lengthy stanzas this afternoon when Pakistan not only looked to wrest control, but became so comfortable that batters never-before renowned for making runs were collecting personal bests by the bucket-load.
Babar Azam looked set to make a hundred, but having stroked his way with barely a false step to 97, and with his teammates gathered boundary-side in expectation of a rare moment of celebration amid an otherwise abject tour, Babar tried to reach his milestone with a flashing drive against Starc and edged a catch to Paine.
Brief scores: Australia 580/3 decl; Pakistan 302 (Yasir Shah 113, Babar Azam 97, M Starc 6/66) and 39/3 in 16.5 overs (J Hazlewood 2/15, M Starc 1/10)