Pakistan vs Australia, 3rd Test Preview: 0-0 on the cards with all eyes on the Lahore pitch
After two batting heavens in Rawalpindi and Karachi, if anyone is expecting a bowling friendly pitch in Lahore, we bring you disappointing news.
It's the pitch again
Lahore is hosting its first Test match since 2009, so there isn't a lot of recent data available about international cricket.
However, in the last 5 first class matches played at the venue over the last year, pace bowlers have averaged 49.16 while the spinners have taken every wicket after conceding 56 runs.
Another pacer or extra spinner?
As a result, both teams will again find themselves in catch 22 on whether to include another more pace bowler in their XI to make use of the reverse swing on offer or include an extra spinner so that they can put a lid on run scoring and keep their first bowlers fresh, who can then exert themselves in short and short bursts and make the most of the opportunity.
0-0 doesn't look too exciting, does it?
Pakistan are coming off a historic draw at Karachi where they looked well out of the game on day 3. However, brilliant performances from Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique have ensured that the series remains at 0-0.
Young cricket fans are not used to watching too many draws in International cricket anymore. If the third test match also ends in a stalemate, it would be after a long, long time that a 3-match test series ends with a 0-0 bottomline. One can remember one such series between India and Pakistan, hosted by the latter.
Since the 2021 T20 World Cup, Pakistan captain Babar Azam wasn't in great form which also continued with Karachi kings in the last edition of the Pakistan Super League.
After a scintillating knock of 196 - his most memorable knock in his International career till now - Azam will now be high on confidence and that will reflect in his leadership as well.
A draw that will feel different for Australia and Pakistan
Moreover, a special characteristic of draws where there is a rearguard effort and the team succeeds in saving that test match, the draw feels more like a victory to the defending team while the bowling team, which was going after the wickets, feels a sense of defeat even though the story on paper is different.
Hence, Pakistan will come into the Lahore test with a lot more drive and the Australian bowlers will have to cope with a quick turnaround and get back to fitness which won't be easy after bowling 172 overs in the second innings of the Karachi test.
The point of relief for them though is that spinners Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson bowled 108 overs and Cummins and Starc won't be absolutely burnt out.
Cummins bowled 39 overs in the last test match while Starc sent down 34 overs, with all-rounder Cameron Green bowling 23. Australian captain Pat Cummins has said that there are no major injuries in the visitor's camp and both Mitchell Starc and himself are likely to be back at Lahore.
The team might want to include one more pace bowler in their lineup without compromising on their spin stocks. They might bring in Josh Hazlewood for Mitchell Swepson who went wicketless in the second innings in Karachi despite producing 3-4 chances.
At the same time, Australia can replace bowling all-rounder pace bowling all rounder Cameron Green with spin bowling all rounder Ashton Agar. Green has picked up two wickets from 42 overs in the series till now.
Pakistan too might be looking for a replacement for spinner Sajid Khan who has been ineffective in the series till now but they don't have real quality on the bench to make amends.
Predicted Playing XIs
Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Sajid Khan, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Afridi
Australia - Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green/Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson/Josh Hazlewood
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