Though a historic occasion, it has, for the most part, been a disappointing series between Pakistan and Australia. There have been some fine individual displays with the bat, with both sides having piled on the runs, but there has been very little in it for the bowlers so far. Will that change enough in Lahore for either side to find a result? Read on for our full Pakistan vs Australia 3rd Test preview and prediction:
Pakistan vs Australia 3rd Test Preview and Prediction
Series So Far
It appeared from the early stages of Pakistan’s first innings in Rawalpindi that it might be a very tough series for the bowlers. Abdullah Shafique fell early, or at least early in the context of that particular match, but Imam-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali were largely untroubled in scoring centuries to take the score to 313-2 before their partnership was broken. Pakistan eventually declared with 476 runs on the board. Australia made 459 in response, before Pakistan added a further 252 for no loss.
A result looked more likely in Karachi when Pakistan managed just 148 runs in reply to Australia’s 556-9d. But that proved to be a false dawn. The pitch in Karachi became somewhat difficult to score on, insofar as it required careful application and judicious shot selection, but it did not offer much turn and bounce, and the Australian seamers could not find the reverse swing they did in Pakistan’s first innings. The result was another run-fest, with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan racking up tonnes, and another draw.
Pakistan have not given any indication that they will change their team here. That will see Imam-ul-Haq, brilliant in Rawalpindi and rather less so in Karachi, open the batting alongside Abdullah Shafique, who narrowly missed out on a hundred in Karachi. Azhar Ali did not have a particularly good game in Karachi, but plays a key role as Pakistan’s most experienced campaigner. Azam, meanwhile, showed his class with a superb 196 on home turf in Karachi and will surely be full of confidence.
Fawad Alam has not had much of an opportunity to impress so far in this series from number five. Rizwan, meanwhile, has slipped from his very high standards with the gloves, but has performed well with the bat. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf provides vital balance at number seven, with the spinners Sajid Khan and Nauman Ali the next men in. Hasan Ali was recalled ahead of Naseem Shah and will likely keep his place. Shaheen Shah Afridi will complete the Pakistan XI.
Australia will be unchanged heading into this match. That will see David Warner, still yet to produce a score of note in this series, open the batting with Usman Khawaja, who has maintained the fine form he showed over the Australian summer. Marnus Labuschagne has not looked at his very best so far, but one suspects that a big score is not to far away for the Queenslander, will bat at three with Steve Smith at four. Travis Head will bat at number five.
Cameron Green will have a key role to play with bat and ball at number six. Alex Carey will come in at seven. He narrowly missed out on a maiden tonne in Karachi, but has looked increasingly at home in the Test arena. Mitchell Starc will bat at eight. He, and Pat Cummins, both threatened when the ball was reversing in Karachi, but there has been little else to celebrate for the two quicks. One suspects that it will be Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson who prove the key to Australia’s chances.
Azam led from the front in Karachi and Pakistan will be hoping for more of the same from their leading batsman. It may be a disappointment to Azam that his 39 Tests have yielded just six centuries, but one also rather suspects that he is just entering his prime. At any rate, if he can bat as well as he did in Karachi consistently, it will not take him long to add more centuries to his record. And it might just set Pakistan up for what would be a famous series victory.
This series is perhaps not the fairest measuring stick considering the conditions, but it is increasingly hard to ignore the suggestions that Australia have a fourth-innings problem. They could not prise England out in Sydney or Pakistan in Karachi. And that is without even mentioning the Gabba. The cause has been Lyon and the off-spinner is also surely the solution for Australia. There is no doubting his class, over 400 wickets ensures that, but how Australia would love him to take a handful of wickets here.
If the pitch reports are to be believed, and there is no reason that they should not be, a draw is by a distance the likeliest result here. Both sides are well-stocked with talented batters who will not throw their wickets away. With so little in it for the bowlers, that makes a result rather unlikely. But Australia have looked the most threatening team with ball in hand, particularly when the ball has reversed. As a result, if either side is to get a result, it may well be the tourists.
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