Pakistan vs Australia, 3rd Test: Pat Cummins, Babar Azam ready for slow wicket in series decider
- Australia and Pakistan will play the third Test of the series in Lahore's Gaddafi stadium
- The series is locked at 0-0
- Lahore is hosting an international match for the first time since 2009
Pakistan and Australia captain, Babar Azam and Pat Cummins, expect a slow wicket at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium where they will lock horns in the series decider starting Monday. The three-match Test series in locked at 0-0.
Babar Azam played a marathon 196 -run knock over 10 hours in the second innings, chasing a mammoth 506 runs, in Karachi to reach a draw. Australia had employed spinners Nathan Lyon and debutant Mitchell Swepson to bowl 108 of the 172 overs.
The docile pitch was just like the one the two sides played on in the first Test in Rawalpindi, where Australia picked just four out of the 14 wickets over five days. The Pindi Cricket Stadium also received one demerit point after being rated at “below average” by the ICC.
“It’s not much different, looks like the same pitch but I feel it will definitely give turn,” Babar told reporters via videoconference on Sunday.
“It has small cracks from where spinners could get help, but you can’t tell 100 per cent because of hot conditions. Whatever it is, our spinners are ready for it and will fight.”
Australia are touring Pakistan for the first time since 1998 and the third Test will decide the winner of the series. Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium will be hosting its first test in 13 years since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 which shut the doors of international cricket in Pakistan.
“You have a different feeling when you play on your home ground and before your home crowd,” Babar said. “Definitely, it will be a proud moment for all of us if we win the home series because we believe we are improving day by day.”
While Pakistan is still contemplating which of its spinners to take into the match, Australia has named an unchanged side which means Swepson will get another game to exhibit his legspin skills on a slow wicket with experienced off-spinner Lyon.
“Looks (wicket) quite similar,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “I can’t say been too much different (wicket) from the other ones, so we feel like we’ve got all bases covered, if needed for a reverse swing or spin later in the game.”
Australia had its chances to go 1-0 up in the series at Karachi, but dropped three crucial catches which eventually led Pakistan to force an epic draw.
“It’s a matter of taking those chances,” Cummins said. “Wickets are premium in this series, so you can’t afford to drop too many chances. We tried more than ten chances, but we just unfortunately didn’t take it, that’s going to be a challenge this week.”
“Reverse swing is going to be the biggest factor and I thought Starky played fantastic in the last test, taking three wickets in the first innings,” Cummins said.
“It’s always tough leaving out someone like Joshy … but I think the class, the difference that Starky brings as a left armer, a bit more air speed, probably gives us the best chance taking 20 wickets.”
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon.
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam(c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan(w), Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Sajid Khan, Shan Masood, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Zahid Mahmood