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Qadir-Benaud Trophy, Test 3, Lahore: Khawaja, Lyon, Cummins propelled Australia to their first Test win in Pakistan in 24-years; series 0-1 to Australia

The wait of 24-years and 15-hard fought days come to an end as Australia won the third Test to win the series in 62-years.

Brief Scores:

Australia 391 (U Khawaja 91, C Green 79, N Shah 4-58, S Afridi 4-79) & 227-3 dec (U Khawaja 104*, D Warner 51, N Shah 1-23) beats Pakistan 268 (A Shafique 81, A Ali 78, P Cummins 5-56, M Strac 4-33) & 235 (I ul Haq 70, B Azam 55, N Lyon 5-83, P Cummins 3-23) by 115-runs to win series 0-1.

Man of the Match: Pat Cummins (8-79 in the match).

Man of the Series: Usman Khawaja (496-runs)

Two Test matches, Rawalpindi & Karachi, lots of runs and few wickets but most boring and frustrating part of the whole story was the wait of 24-years of Australia’s tour to Pakistan has stood to 0-0 as the teams headed to Lahore for the last and final Test to decide the fate of the series.

The last thing the fans and the game-lovers would hope was going to be another flat deck for the batters to enjoy.

Qadir-Benaud Trophy, Test 2, Karachi: Twist and Turn in Karachi saw Babar masterclass with Rizwan magic denied Australia to lift a lead; series 0-0

Day 1: Pakistan Pacers breathe fire to push Australia on the back-foot late in the day; Australia 232-5:

On a hard-fought day of Test cricket, some excellent fast bowling for the home camp fired up the mood of the series from down to sky. Australian captain, Pat Cummins, on the eve of the game did announce that the tourists were going to the decider with an unchanged side while Pakistan had brought Naseem Shah replacing Faheem Ashraf to strengthen their bowling but making their batting weaker.

It didn’t feel too bad when they put Australia at 8-2 in the third over before Steve Smith and last match centurion, Usman Khawaja steadied the ship. The former on 59 again missed another century chance as Australia late in the end found the heat of the home pacers. Sick Khawaja missed his back-back century by 9-runs as Australia left the day at 232-5.

Day 2: Afridi-Naseem Shah torn up the Australian late order before the hosts took advantage with bat; Australia 391 & Pakistan 90/1:

Alex Carey & Cameron Green fired up the Australian score on the second day. Very funnily but strongly for Australia, their wicket-keeper’s average had gone up so high after he fell down in the Karachi pool. Both of them notched up their respective fifties with a partnership of 135-runs as Australia looked to post a huge first innings total before Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi cleaned up the visitor’s later order to restrict them at 391.

Pakistan didn’t begin well losing opener Imam-ul-Haq for just 11 before Abdullah Shafique and home boy, Azhar Ali, who was playing his first game in known conditions of Lahore, stitched up an unbeaten partnership to end the day for the hosts at 90/1. With a long batting line-up to follow on an easy batting strip, the visitors needed some magic.

Day 3: Cummins-Strac reversed the game on his head gaining a huge lead of 134-runs; Australia 391 & 11-0 lead Pakistan 268 by 134-runs:

Till Tea on the third day with set batters on the crease and still just 150-odd runs to add to draw with Australia, Pakistan was on the verge of getting their nose in front in the series. But something did strike. Shafique was on 81 when Lyon sent him back before Pat Cummins took a wonderful one hand catch to dismiss Azhar on 78. The famous Pakistani collapse kicked off as the home side from being 214-2 fell down to 268-all out.

Meanwhile, Babar Azam stood tall for his 67 but he too neither have any answer against the reverse swing of Cummins and Strac. The Australian skipper ended with a fighting 5-wicket haul, “Unlike the last couple of games, we’ve given ourselves a really good opportunity; it’s awesome as a captain.”

The day ended firmly on Australia’s favor as they reached 11 without any damage at the end of the day with a combined lead of 134-runs. The picture of Afridi and Warner to finish the day off spoke out in what good and friendly spirit the series was being played.

Day 4: Lahore Test evenly poised with unbeaten home opening stand after Khawaja century made Australia’s bold declaration; Pakistan 268 & 73-0 needs 278 runs to Australia 391 & 227-3 dec:

The day started exactly the way tourists Australia dreamt of; both Warner and Khawaja notched up their respective fifties before Warner found a seed from left-arm Shaheen Afridi to see his stumps cartwheeling. Marnus Labuschagne, who was on pair, registered a steady 36 before being dismissed in an aim to score more freely for declaration.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith became the fastest to reach 8000-Test runs in just 151-innings crossing Kumar Sangakkara’s 152-innings. Even he too got out, but the stand-out performance was Usman Khawaja who deposited his second hundred of the tour as Cummins made a bold declaration throwing 351-runs for Pakistan to chase in 121-overs.

Even though, the tourists hoped for some late wickets, both home openers, Imam and Shafique, assured that would go back to the dressing room without any harm at 73. More to follow, they had scored at a healthy rate of 2.7 meaning that going into the final day of the Test series, Pakistan needed 278-runs in 90-overs while Australia required 10-wickets; both for the same reason to win the series.

In just 8-hours, the dull boring series could turn into something extra-ordinary!!

Day 5: Lyon, Cummins inspired Australia to the series victory of 0-1 after 24-years by 115-runs; Australia 391 & 227-3 dec beats Pakistan 268 & 235:

The final days of the series began the best possible way for Australia who thanked Cameron Green for drawing the first blood early in the day with fait edge of Shafique before Azhar Ali got frustrated with a controversial third umpiring decision. The middle session almost saw the home middle order being fell down like a pack of cards as Imam after his gritty 70 bat-pad to the short leg before struggling Fawad Alam on 11 continued his off form and went on to burnt a review. Rizwan too got out for a duck on an unlucky LBW.

Babar Azam, did play a captain’s knock of 55 but couldn’t resist more when Steve Smith grabbed an excellent low catch at slips to break all the dreams of a famous home series win. Hasan Ali after smacking the ball out of the park dragged the ball on to his stumps as the tourists smelled a long-waited series victory. With wicket of Afridi via an excellence of Swepson, Nathan Lyon bagged his 18th five-wicket haul.

And it couldn’t happen in better way as captain courageous Pat Cummins disturbed the stumps of Naseem Shah to end the 24-yaer 15-days of wait for Australia to win in Pakistan. It was also their maiden Test series win in Pakistan in 62-years. This is also Australia’s first Test series win in Asia since beating Sri-Lanka in 2011.

Qadir-Benaud Trophy: Top Three Test Matches from the history between Australia & Pakistan

Player’s corner: 

Usman Khawaja (Man of the series): We’ve had a lot of fun. Want to thank Pakistan, the fans. The boys would agree. The food’s been great. Winning today has been the icing on the cake. I think 350 with four sessions was a pretty good target. I knew how tough it was batting there. It was the hardest wicket I batted on. Was the hardest hundred I got.

Babar Azam (Pakistan, Losing Captain): Pretty good series overall. Fought hard in Pindi, saved the match in Karachi. Here, we had two bad sessions. Our plan was to play normal cricket. Thought we would go for the chase if momentum was on our side. Want to thank Australia for coming here. The crowd supported both teams. Had a lot of fun.

Pat Cummins (Australia, Winning Captain):  In the first innings the way we batted, the way we put ourselves in front was fantastic. Thought if we bowled to our potential it was enough. Was kind of weird that the trend of the game was that the first couple of wickets were hard to get, once it got 30-40 overs old. The really great thing about this whole squad is .. we played really well in Australia in the Ashes. And now here. Swepson probably didn’t get the just rewards, was an important member of our bowling group. We’ve been so well received here. Didn’t know what to expect here but it has been an amazing experience. Been a lot of fun. Competitive cricket. In a lot of way, it’s been more important than just the result.

What to follow next:

Both Teams will remain in Lahore as the ODI leg of the tour will commence on 29th of March, 2022.

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