Recent Match Report – Australia vs Pakistan 3rd Test 2023/24

Australia 116 for 2 (Khawaja 47, Labuschagne 23*, Salman 1-18, Jamal 1-26) trail Pakistan 313 by 197 runs

Retiring opener David Warner rode his luck before falling for 34 as the third Test between Australia and Pakistan was evenly poised after a truncated second day.

Australia made slow progress against a disciplined Pakistan attack, but only 46 overs were bowled in the day’s play due to bad light and rain. Marnus Labuschagne was unbeaten on 23 and Steven Smith 6 not out, and they will get the chance to reset in what should be better conditions on day three.

Even though the SCG’s light towers were on, play stopped just after drinks in the second session after Pakistan refused to only bowl their spinners.

Play was unable to resume with persistent rain falling in the afternoon as bad weather continues to plague the traditional New Year’s Test in Sydney. But the forecast is for mostly clear conditions for the remainder of the match.

Opener Usman Khawaja fell for a patient 47 off 143 to tireless quick Aamer Jamal in the only wicket of the second session. Australia scored at just 2.46 runs an over and been shackled by an accurate Pakistan attack.

All eyes earlier had been on Warner, who is playing in his 112th and final Test. He survived a tense final over before stumps on day one after receiving a guard of honour from the Pakistan team. He started the innings with a first-ball boundary off spinner Sajid Khan before almost playing the ball onto his stumps in a narrow escape.

Agha Salman leaps in celebration after claiming David Warner•Getty Images

Warner again came out to a standing ovation to start day two and shared a hug with his close friend Khawaja before walking to the crease. There was intrigue over whether Warner would come out swinging, but he appeared to eye the long haul as he played carefully.

Warner did hit a beautiful cover drive off veteran seamer Hasan Ali, who was bowling at pedestrian speeds. Stepping down the crease, Warner was treating him with disdain but he did have another nervous moment when he edged through a vacant third slip and to the boundary.

Pakistan’s bid for early wickets with the new ball have been made harder without spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who has been contentiously rested for the match ahead of their T20I tour of New Zealand after a heavy workload over the opening two Tests.
Warner looked likely to bat through to lunch after being badly dropped on 20 at first slip by debutant Saim Ayub off Jamal. But he failed to capitalise and fell when he edged a sharp delivery from offspinner Agha Salman that had bite and turned sharply as Babar Azam took a fine catch at slip.

The crowd groaned as Warner ripped his gloves off and berated himself before trudging off to a standing ovation and loud applause.

It was the only wicket of an attritional session. Under gloomy conditions, the surface had been more difficult for batting than on the opening day with variable bounce notable from Salman.

Australia have batted conservatively in a far cry to the manic action on day one when Pakistan rattled along at four runs an over but continually lost wickets.

There was concern for Pakistan straight after lunch when Hasan hobbled off with an apparent ankle injury but he returned shortly afterwards.

Salman continued to threaten and was particularly dangerous around the wicket to left-handed Khawaja as he targeted the rough patches.

Labuschagne, looking to shrug off a lean 2023 where he averaged 35 in Test cricket, looked fluent at the start as he played the ball neatly through his favoured on-side before being tied down by accurate bowling.

Khawaja stonewalled on a ground he has long dominated having averaged over 100 from seven previous Tests with four centuries. Apart from using his feet nicely to bludgeon Sajid in the first session, Khawaja dug in as he closed in on a half-century.

It was slow going until out of nowhere Khawaja tickled a short delivery angled down the leg-side from Jamal. After Khawaja was originally deemed not out, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan immediately called for a review and his confidence was justified when replays showed that Khawaja had gloved it.

Bowling consistently at speeds near 140 kmh, Jamal sought a short-ball tactic against Smith who countered by pulling to the boundary on his second delivery faced as the ball sped past a slew of fielders on the leg-side.

But the intriguing battle was put on hold with the match in the balance.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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