Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon Take Australia Close To Series Win On Final Day


Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon take Australia close to series win on final day

Pakistan's improbable bid for a win was dented when they lost three wickets in a shortened second session.

LAHORE: (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News-March 25th, 2022) Brilliant bowling from captain Pat Cummins before tea inched Australia closer to a series-deciding third-Test victory, as Pakistan's hopes of staving off defeat in the final session ended up resting with their own skipper Babar Azam.

Needing 351 runs to win the match or batting through 121 overs for a draw - both feats never achieved in Lahore before - Pakistan reached 190 for 5 at tea on the final day of the series, which remains locked at 0-0 after two Tests.

Babar was unbeaten on 46 and Sajid Khan on 8, with Pakistan still needing an unlikely 161 runs for a series victory after draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Pakistan's improbable bid for a win was dented when they lost three wickets in a shortened second session. But they will still feel a chance to thwart Australia with Babar at the crease after he produced a masterful 196 to secure a dramatic draw in Karachi.

Babar lived dangerously in the last over before tea when he was dropped by Travis Head at deep midwicket after rashly charging Nathan Lyon. He had also enjoyed some luck moments earlier when Australia chose not to review after he prodded a Lyon delivery that ballooned to a diving Steven Smith at slip. With just one review left, Cummins chose not to go for it, but replays showed Babar may have gloved it.

Even though he was left to rue that opportunity, Cummins gave Australia a stranglehold with a brilliant burst to dismiss both Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan in quick succession.

But before Cummins' heroics, Lyon had dislodged Imam-ul-Haq for 70 with his second ball after lunch when he had the opener inside-edging to silly point. It was a reward for Lyon's accuracy and Cummins' persistence with deploying four catchers around the bat.

It brought out an under-pressure Fawad, who is the only Pakistan specialist batter without a century in the series. His arrival prompted Cummins to predictably turn to Mitchell Starc, who has dominated that match-up on this tour.

Starc troubled Fawad and had a huge shout for lbw turned down, with replays confirming an inside edge as Australia lost their second review. Although the left-hand batter offered more resistance this time around, he soon succumbed lbw to a full Cummins delivery while also wasting a review.

Cummins then dismissed Rizwan lbw for a duck with a searing yorker to expose Pakistan's long tail, as the hosts went into this Test with a five-pronged bowling attack. Bafflingly, Rizwan didn't use Pakistan's last review, with replays confirming the ball hit him on the foot well outside off stump.

Cummins' masterclass eased Australia's nerves after his sporting declaration late on four 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.

But Australia's disciplined attack has threatened throughout on a slow Lahore surface marked by low bounce, with reverse swing and occasional sharp turn evident.

With the historic three-Test series on the line, Pakistan lost two wickets in a prolonged opening session yielding 63 runs in 33 overs, marked by the controversial dismissal of Azhar Ali for 17 after an overturned review.

Replays detected a faint edge from an attempted sweep off Lyon that lobbed to Smith at first slip. Having had a torrid time in the slips, Smith was relieved to take an easy chance and looked absolutely convinced that he heard a sound, but replays only detected the slightest deviation in the wave. Azhar's first Test on his home ground ended in major disappointment as he trudged off angrily, with Pakistan's task made more difficult.

Having survived 27 overs before stumps on day four, Pakistan received an early setback when the in-form Abdullah Shafique fell for 27. Cameron Green shared the duties at the start and it proved a masterstroke from Cummins as the towering allrounder was rewarded for a probing spell of reverse swing with the wicket of Shafique, who hung his bat out and edged a good length delivery to fail to add to his overnight total.

After giving Pakistan a sniff, Cummins boldly pressed for victory in a bid to lead Australia to their first overseas Test series victory since 2016 and also end their 11-year drought in Asia.

A result would avoid this contest being the first three-match Test series to end in a 0-0 deadlock since New Zealand hosted England in 2013. Australia last featured in a nil-all draw in a rain-affected series against New Zealand at home in late 2001.

On the 30th anniversary of Pakistan winning the World Cup - arguably their greatest cricket feat - Babar needs to find similar inspiration to defy Australia's attack led by his unwavering counterpart Cummins.

Abdullah Hussain

Abdullah Hussain is a staff member who writes on politics, human rights, social issues and climate change.