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Babar Azam and Pat Cummins expect another slow lead in series decider

Pakistan captain Babar Azam predicts another slow wicket will test batting patience and skill when his side meet Australia in the third and final litmus test on Monday.

Babar played one of the epic shots in the fourth leg of a Test match when his 196 marathon challenged Australia for over 10 hours and forced a draw in Karachi to keep the series locked at 0-0 .

Aussie spinners Nathan Lyon and debutant Mitchell Swepson hit 108 of 172 overs in Round 4 in Karachi but Pakistan held the visitors at bay by scoring 443-7 in more than five sessions, trailing the mammoth 63 506. -execute the target.

The docile, lifeless wicket in the tame Test at Rawalpindi saw Australia pick up just four of 14 wickets to go and the ground at Pindi Cricket Stadium also received a demerit point after being rated ‘below par’ “by the ICC.

After the criticism of the Rawalpindi wicket, the Pakistan Cricket Board brought in ICC Academy Curator Toby Lumsden who assisted the local ground staff in preparing the Lahore Test wicket.

“It’s not much different, it looks like the same pitch but I feel it’s definitely going to change,” Babar told reporters via video link on Sunday.

“There are small cracks that the spinners could get some help from, but you can’t tell 100% because of the hot conditions. Either way, our spinners are ready and will fight.

Australia’s historic first tour of Pakistan since 1998 has added significance in the series decider. Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will host its first Test in 13 years since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 led to a long absence of international cricket in the country.

None of the Pakistani players played a test match at Gaddafi Stadium where Babar made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 when Pakistan started their campaign to win back the trust of foreign teams and the resumption of international cricket.

Test cricket resumed in Pakistan in 2019 when Sri Lanka toured Pakistan while Bangladesh and South Africa also played Test matches, but in Karachi and Rawalpindi, rather than Lahore.

“You have a different feeling when you play on your pitch and in front of your audience,” Babar said. “Certainly it will be a proud moment for all of us if we win the home series because we think we are improving day by day.”

While Pakistan are still considering which of their spinners to take into the match, Australia have named an unchanged squad meaning Swepson will have another game to show off his leg spinning skills on a slow wicket with Lyon, an off -experienced spinner.

“He looks (wicket) quite similar,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “I can’t say I was too different (wicket) from the others, so we feel like we covered all the bases, if needed for a reverse swing or spin later in the game.”

Australia had their chances to go 1-0 up in the series in Karachi, but lost three crucial catches that eventually saw Pakistan force an epic draw.

Fly-half Abdullah Shafique scored 96 in the second inning after Steve Smith dropped a keeper in the slides when he was 20. Babar also got some reprieve when Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne dropped the Pakistani skipper on successive Swepson deliveries just before. tea on the last day.

“It’s a matter of taking those risks,” Cummins said. “Wickets are premium in this series, so you can’t afford to lose too many chances. We tried more than ten chances, but unfortunately we didn’t take it, it’s going to be a challenge this week.

The slow nature of wickets in Pakistan encouraged Australia to drop fast bowler Josh Hazlewood for the second consecutive Test match. And Cummins said it was hard to put him off but thought Mitchell Starc’s reverse swing could help Australia take 20 wickets in the latest Test.

“The 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 hard to leave out someone like Joshy…but I think the class, the difference that Starky brings as a left hander, a little bit more airspeed, probably gives us the best chance of 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: To be named.

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