Australia, deservingly, won the Test series in Pakistan. The Pakistanis prepared tracks to negate Australia’s strength and the strategy remained the same throughout the series whereas, Australia kept on pushing hard and maintained their attacking intent and when a team shuns their defensive mindset, they are bound to reap a rich harvest.

On Day 1, Australia opener Usman Khawaja fell agonisingly short of another Test century, as a disciplined Pakistan attack claimed three late wickets on day one to wrestle back control of the series-deciding third Test in Lahore.

Having won a crucial toss and electing to bat, Australia reached stumps at a wobbly 232 for 5 with Cameron Green 20 not out and Alex Carey unbeaten on 8. Khawaja, Australia’s only centurion of the three-match series which remains deadlocked after two draws, top-scored with 91 and Steven Smith made 59 but Pakistan claimed the honours after a dominant final session.

Travis Head endured his third straight middling score of the series when he was caught behind on 26 off a gem of a delivery from 19-year-old Naseem Shah, who was the standout bowler of an unwavering attack.

The recalled quick finished with 2 for 40 off 19 overs while left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi was the early star – with two wickets in an opening burst.

Green and Carey, who made a career-best 93 in the second Test, survived a tricky late burst against the second new ball.

Australia had a rollercoaster of an opening day, which was bookended by wickets and sandwiched in the middle by a 138-run third-wicket partnership between Khawaja and Smith who came together in the third over after Afridi removed David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne in the space of three balls.

On Day 2, Naseem’s brilliant 4 for 58 from 31 overs marked by reverse swing mastery helped restrict Australia and move this match forward with the series deadlocked after two draws in batting-friendly conditions in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Naseem’s expertise with the old ball dashed Australia’s hopes of a massive first innings total on a slow surface in the first Test played in Lahore since 2009. Australia, however, still managed a decent score on a pitch offering some welcome assistance for weary bowlers, with cracks evident, but Pakistan started their first innings reasonably comfortably during a prolonged final session lasting 39 overs.

Having started the second day in a delicate position at 232 for 5, Carey and Green batted fluently through the first session to frustrate Pakistan and restore Australia’s control. But they both missed out on maiden Test centuries after falling early in the second session leaving Khawaja as Australia’s only centurion of the three-match series.

Australia had appeared set for a commanding first innings total until they lost five wickets in the middle session, as they crumbled under a superb spell of reverse swing from Naseem who was rewarded for unwavering bowling through the innings.

In a riveting contest between two of cricket’s brightest young talents, Naseem had the last laugh when he clean bowled Green with a gem of an inswinger to end the allrounder’s 163-ball knock. Green fell just short of his highest Test score of 84 but it was another impressive innings from the 22-year-old who showcased a mixture of strong defence, marked by intent on getting his huge frame forward, and exquisite strokes on the offside.

Carey, in his eighth Test, also produced an encouraging performance to help strengthen Australia’s middle-order after notching his second straight half-century. Having entered the series under some pressure after an inconsistent Ashes with bat and gloves, Carey’s 105-ball knock was marked by superb driving to thwart the quicks and perfectly executing reverse sweeps to fluster the spinners.

Pakistan’s five-pronged attack toiled manfully amid oppressive conditions after appearing to be staring down the barrel of again conceding a massive first innings score. But they hung in and took full advantage of the reverse swing after lunch through young guns Naseem and Shaheen Shah Afridi, who also claimed four wickets.

Naseem’s scintillating burst late in the middle session was a rare sight of ball dominating bat in this series. In a more familiar sight, arm wrestles ensued in the final session as little separated these teams after two days.

Pakistan’s response started slowly and a stalemate ensued as Australia waited for signs of reverse swing. Their wish was granted in the 11th-over bowled by Cameron Green prompting skipper Pat Cummins to bring himself back on and he struck immediately after removing Imam-ul-Haq lbw for 11. After twin centuries in Rawalpindi, left-hand opener Imam has thudded back to earth with three straight failures.

Mohammad Shafique and Azhar Ali – batting in front of his home crowd after a long time – steadied the ship.

On Day 3, Unplayable quicks Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc tore through Pakistan’s batting order with vicious reverse swing late on day three to engineer Australia’s stunning fightback and power them into unexpected control of the series-deciding third Test.

After being in a strong position at 214 for 2, Pakistan collapsed against torrid bowling from Cummins and Starc, who claimed nine wickets between them in a remarkable turnaround as Australia gained 123-run first-innings lead.

A shocked Pakistan lost 7 for 20 in 10 overs to be dismissed for 268 with Cummins finishing with 5 for 56 and Starc 4 for 33 to turn the match on its head.
On Day 4, Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique made a confident start in Pakistan’s daunting chase of 351 to leave Australia anxious.

The historic three-Test series is headed for a gripping finish after Pakistan reached stumps on day four at 73 for 0 with Imam 42 not out and Shafique unbeaten on 27.

They survived 27 overs as Pakistan requires another 278 runs for victory with a minimum of 121 overs to be bowled in the innings.

Shafique had a major scare on the second last day when he edged legspinner Marnus Labuschagne only for a wrong-footed Steve Smith at first slip to desperately snatch his left hand out in vain.

It continued a torrid time for Smith at slip and heightened Australia’s nerves in the series finale after draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Usman Khawaja capped a series for the ages in his country of birth with an unbeaten 104 to notch his 12th Test century and second in the series.

The remade opener has now scored fourth tons in nine innings since being recalled in January and has been the dominant batter in this series with 496 runs at 165.33.

He was the only Australian batter to score a century in this series, the first between the teams in Pakistan since 1998.

Just before tea, in more celebrations for Australia, Smith smoked a boundary to become the quickest to 8000 Test runs in his 151st innings – one faster than Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara.

Khawaja was earlier well supported by an aggressive David Warner, as the openers batted almost through the first session albeit aided by a sloppy Pakistan who appeared to be going through the motions.

Pakistan finally received a spark just before lunch when Shaheen Shah Afridi unleashed a spectacular delivery to uproot Warner’s off stump in an unplayable ball leaving the opener to shake the bowler’s hand on his way off.

Labuschagne, who had made two ducks twice in his last three innings, avoided a pair and made 36 before holing out attempting to lift the rate. It finished a relatively lean series for the No.1 Test ranked batter Labuschagne, who averaged 34 and remained without a Test century away from Australia.

The acceleration was left to Khawaja who memorably reached his ton just before tea to trigger jubilant celebrations.

Cummins had ended Australia’s second innings at 227 for 3 shortly after tea in a bid to ensure plenty of time for his bowlers on a pitch playing tricks but is not a minefield.

The declaration dangled a carrot to Pakistan, who defied the odds during their remarkable chase of 506 in Karachi when they finished at 443 for 7 from 171.4 overs.

On Day 5, Nathan Lyon resoundingly answered the critics with five wickets on the final day, as Australia’s unwavering attack ended Pakistan’s resistance late on day five to win the deciding third Test by 115 runs. Lyon claimed 5 for 83, while Player of the Match Pat Cummins finished a brilliant series with 3 for 23, and eight wickets in the Test.

Needing 351 to win or batting through 121 overs – both feats never achieved in Lahore before – Pakistan were dismissed for 235 after losing five wickets in the final session. In the historic first series between the teams in Pakistan since 1998, Australia broke the deadlock after draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi. It is the same 1-0 scoreline that Mark Taylor’s team famously achieved 24 years ago.

After giving Pakistan a sniff with a bold declaration, captain Cummins was vindicated as he led Australia to their first overseas Test series victory since 2016, as they also ended their 11-year drought in Asia.

Pakistan’s hopes were nosedived when captain Babar Azam fell for 55 after tea when Steven Smith took a sharp catch near his left boot off Lyon. After a torrid series in the slips, Smith atoned in a big moment to put Australia on course for victory.

Australia were relieved after Babar, who had produced a masterful 196 to secure a draw in Karachi, had been dropped before tea by Travis Head at deep midwicket after rashly charging Lyon. He also may have enjoyed some luck moments earlier when Australia chose not to review after he prodded a Lyon delivery that ballooned to a diving Smith at slip. With just one review left, Cummins chose not to pull the trigger but replays showed Babar may have gloved the ball.

Cummins started his terrific performance by removing Imam-ul-Haq for 70 with his second ball after lunch when he had the opener inside-edging to the silly point. It was a reward for Lyon’s accuracy and Cummins’ persistence with deploying four catchers around the bat.

Lyon had also toiled manfully in the middle of day three to fuel Australia’s fightback just when Pakistan appeared set for a mammoth first-innings total.

Even though they faced a daunting task, the hosts entered the final day with hope. But it soon eroded in the first session after the controversial dismissal of Azhar Ali for 17 following an overturned review. Replays detected a faint edge from an attempted sweep off Lyon that lobbed to Smith at first slip. Smith was absolutely convinced that he had heard a sound, but replays only detected the slightest deviation in the wave.

Azhar’s match ended in major disappointment as he trudged off angrily in a blow for Pakistan who had earlier lost in-form Abdullah Shafique for 27.

Australia’s nerves were raised when Babar played fluently against the second new ball but his dismissal sucked the life out of the crowd, as Australia soon claimed their first Test win against Pakistan in Asia since 2002.

adsense

Note: Input from ESPNcricinfo

Facebook Comments