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

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

Australia made slow progress against a disciplined Pakistan attack after retiring opener David Warner fell for 34 with the third Test evenly poised before bad light halted play on the second day.

Play stopped just after drinks in the second session even though the SCG’s light towers were on before tea was called 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Rain and thunderstorms are forecast in Sydney later in the afternoon in what looms as a truncated day’s play.

Opener Usman Khawaja fell for a patient 47 off 143 to tireless quick Aamer Jamal in the only wicket of the second session. Pakistan have bowled accurately with Australia scoring at just 2.46 runs an over.

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.

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.

He looked likely to bat through to lunch after being badly dropped on 20 at first slip by debutant Saim Ayub off Jamal. But Warner failed to capitalise and fell when he edged a sharp delivery from offspinner Salman Agha 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 the first session. Under gloomy conditions, the surface has 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 veteran seamer Hasan Ali 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 is looking to shrug off a lean 2023, where he averaged 35 in Test cricket. He 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 Steve 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 halted by bad light with the match in the balance.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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