The Test series between Pakistan and Australia will come to a close this week when the two teams meet in the third and final match in Lahore and after a couple of tame draws both sides go into this finale knowing the winner claims the spoils.
Winning the series will be one of the primary aims but the other will be to secure more points in the latest model of the World Test Championship. We can be assured both teams will be all out to win should conditions allow for a winner.
We saw both sides of Pakistan in the second match of the series. We saw the sloppy and terrible side of them in their first innings but then in the second dig we saw the best of them. Most sides when faced with having to bat out two whole days and more or chase down over 500 in the final innings could be forgiven for thinking the task was too much and lacking the necessary application but that wasn’t the case with Pakistan and incredibly at one stage they might have been considering completing what would have been an epic run chase.
The first innings in Karachi should have been a reminder that they have to stay focused at all times in this deciding match. They will also hope there is something in the pitch that their bowlers can exploit. We can’t really say much about their bowling unit because they have had to bowl on a couple of absolute roads. The one thing you would say about them is they have stuck to their task fairly well in rough conditions.
I would imagine that despite the pitch not really deteriorating in Karachi last time out that Australia would have come away from there disappointed they couldn’t force a win. To have more than two days to bowl a side out is a rare luxury and they would have expected to be able to finish the job but that wasn’t the case. They need to put that behind them and make sure that they are mentally in position to go again as well as physically, with the latter not actually guaranteed.
The positive for Australia is that they know they can tame this Pakistan side when they have the bat in hand but they need to come up with a way of taking 20 wickets with the ball. It isn’t as though they can bat quicker to put some time into the game because they had so much of it in Karachi. They’ll also be hoping that there is something in the pitch to offer the bowlers a chance as they will fancy their chances if that is the case.
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Pakistan are expected to go in with an unchanged side for this match unless they want to add another spinner to their ranks. If they do then we could see a debut for the leggie Zahid Mahmood with Nauman Ali the man most likely in danger of dropping out.
Australia captain Pat Cummins has confirmed that his side will be unchanged going into this match which is a slight surprise given the amount of overs his charges bowled in the second innings. It means there is still no place for Josh Hazlewood.
I took the runs in Karachi last week and even though one of the first innings scores was just 148 there were still an incredible 1244 runs in the match and while I wouldn’t expect a score of 443/7 in the final innings of the match again I don’t think we’ll need anything like that and there are a few reasons why I think that is the case. The obvious one is that you would say Australia are the better of these two sides but their bowlers have just bowled 171.4 overs and only had three days rest so if they were to bowl first in this match they could be incredibly toothless.
The other reason why I expect the runs to flow is as with Karachi last time out, fans haven’t seen much Test cricket in this part of the world for years so those in Lahore will want as many people to see it as is possible so I’m expecting a pitch which will be really good for batting early. It might be that on day five this one is a little tougher to bat on but I wouldn’t stake my house on that. I am happy to back over 1039.5 runs here. We’re only really looking at any first innings score of 400 to keep this within range and with the effort these two attacks have put in I expect that and more.
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