Pakistan make ELECTRIC start to third Test as Shaheen Shah Afridi puts Aussies on the back foot


Usman Khawaja inches closer to another Test century as Aussie gun helps steady the ship after Pakistan’s ELECTRIC start in Lahore – and Steve Smith is dismissed for 59 runs following resilient knock

  • Pakistan have made a tremendous start to the third and final test in Pakistan 
  • The hosts have carried their momentum from Karachi into Lahore’s match 
  • Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up two early wickets to put Australia 8-2 
  • Usman Khawaja is moving towards another Test century in the nation of his birth 
  • Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith were forced to steady the ship heading to lunch

Resilient half centuries from Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith helped Australia recover from two early wickets and carried the visitors to 145-2 at tea on the opening day of the third and final test against Pakistan on Monday.

Khawaja continued his rich batting form in the country of his birth with a brilliant unbeaten 69 in two sessions.

Smith, dropped on 19, moved to 58 as the pair denied Pakistan wickets and lifted Australia from a precarious 8-2 in the third over.

Australian guns Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja both hit fifties in the third Test in Pakistan

Pakistan made an electric start to the third and final test against Australia on Monday

Pakistan made an electric start to the third and final test against Australia on Monday

Young bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi struck with two early wickets to put Australia 8-2

Young bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi struck with two early wickets to put Australia 8-2

Khawaja, who scored 97, 160 and 44 not out in the two drawn matches at Rawalpindi and Karachi, dominated Pakistan bowlers on yet another slow and low-bouncy wicket.

Vice-captain Smith closed in on his 8,000th run in test cricket as Pakistan missed opportunities to dismiss both batters after an eventful second over from Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-27) under hot conditions.

Pakistan’s fast bowlers bowled in short spells but got little reverse swing on a flat wicket with mercury hovering around mid-30 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Afridi (2-27) bowled nine overs in two spells but couldn’t get through the defenses of both batters since chipping in two wickets in his second over.

Khawaja completed his half century off 105 balls in three hours when he square cut off-spinner Sajid Khan for his sixth boundary. That followed a six over mid-wicket against left-arm spinner Nauman Ali before lunch.

Smith raised his 36th test half century off 154 balls in 3-1/2 hours by driving off-spinner Sajid Khan to mid-wicket for two runs as Australia added a further 75 runs in the second session without losing a wicket.

Pakistan missed out on two sharp chances to dismiss both Khawaja and Smith before lunch.

Captain Babar Azam, who lost the crucial toss, couldn’t get down in time in slip to hold onto a sharp edge of Khawaja. Nauman then dropped a catch off his own bowling on the very next ball when Smith drove back hard at the left-arm spinner.

Marnus Labuschagne's poor tour continued as he made just three runs in Lahore on Monday

Marnus Labuschagne’s poor tour continued as he made just three runs in Lahore on Monday

However, Smith (L) and Khawaja (R) put in a resilient showing to help Australia battle on

However, Smith (L) and Khawaja (R) put in a resilient showing to help Australia battle on

Earlier, Smith and Khawaja led Australia’s recovery and carried the visitors to 70-2 by lunch after Afridi got two early wickets.

David Warner (7) was pinned on his crease by a delivery which seamed back into the left-hander, beat the bat and struck his pads. Warner didn’t go for a television referral.

Marnus Labuschagne then got his second duck in the series when he drove recklessly in the same over and got a thin outside edge. Labuschagne was run out without scoring at Karachi before Australia amassed 556-9 in the first innings.

Pakistan went with the extra pace option in the bowling attack and included Naseem Shah in place of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf in the only change to the lineup which played to an epic draw last week.

Khawaja has enjoyed a superb series in Pakistan and worked his way towards another century

Khawaja has enjoyed a superb series in Pakistan and worked his way towards another century

Steve Smith made 59 runs before being trapped LBW by Pakistan bowler Naseem Shah

Steve Smith made 59 runs before being trapped LBW by Pakistan bowler Naseem Shah

Australia retained the same XI which toiled for nearly 172 overs on the last two days of the second test but couldn’t force a win at Karachi, where Pakistan captain Babar Azam played a marathon innings of 196.

Australia’s historic first tour of Pakistan in 24 years has added significance going into the series decider.

Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium is hosting its first test in 13 years since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team’s bus in 2009 that led to a lengthy absence of international cricket in Pakistan.

No players in the starting XI have played a test match at the Gaddafi Stadium, where Babar made his one-day international debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 when Pakistan started its campaign to win back the confidence of foreign teams and the resumption of international cricket.

Azhar Ali is the most senior cricketer in the Pakistan XI, having played 93 tests, but is featuring in his first test in his hometown.



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