Aaron Finch's half-century and Ben McDermott's composure proved to be decisive as Australia defeated Pakistan by three wickets in Tuesday's thrilling one-off T20I.

Pakistan won the ODI series thanks in large part to the brilliance of captain Babar Azam and his superb 66 propelled the hosts to a competitive 162-8 in Lahore.

Babar's composure at the crease was much-needed for Pakistan, who lost Mohammad Rizwan (23) and Fakhar Zaman (0) in successive balls to T20I debutant Cameron Green (2-16).

Adam Zampa finally drew a stray shot out of Pakistan's skipper, who picked out Nathan Ellis to leave his side on 118-4.

Having already dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed, Ellis – the pick of Australia's bowlers with 4-28 – then did the damage through Pakistan's middle order, getting rid of the dangerous Khushdil Shah (24), Asif Ali (3) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (0), though Usman Qadir's flurry of 18 not out boosted the hosts.

Travis Head quickly set about getting the tourists' chase on its way, scoring a rapid 26 that included four boundaries before he was sent packing by Haris Rauf.

Josh Inglis (24) kept up the pace until Qadir struck, but Australia seemed well set before Marnus Labuschagne, Marcus Stoinis and Green were dismissed in the space of 20 balls.

Yet captain Finch anchored the chase as he returned to form following back-to-back ducks in the ODI series, with his steady innings steering Australia into needing 15 runs from three overs.

A costly start to the 18th over from Haris saw McDermott plunder successive boundaries, though the pressure was back on Australia when Finch found Asif in the deep.

Afridi (2-21) rounded off an excellent spell by bowling Sean Abbott for a duck, yet another poor Haris ball handed McDermott the chance to clip away the winning boundary.

Captains come up big

Babar gave yet another exhibition of how he has risen to the top of the batting rankings in another sensational knock - his 66 coming at a strike rate of 143.47.

Yet it was World Cup winner Finch who took the trophy, as he showed plenty of patience to stay at the crease for 18 overs, showing why interim head coach Andrew McDonald backed him to stay on as skipper.

Historic tour comes to a close

It has been a brilliant match-up between Pakistan and Australia over the last month or so and the tourists will finally return home.

Australia have now won each of their past four T20Is against Pakistan, the first time they have gone on such a run, though this was the first meeting in the format between the teams in Pakistan.

Andrew McDonald has backed out-of-form captain Aaron Finch to lead Australia in the T20 World Cup this year ahead of a one-off match against Pakistan at Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.

Opener Finch was dismissed without scoring in the second and third ODIs as the tourists suffered a 2-1 loss to a Babar Azam-inspired Pakistan side last week.

The skipper has not scored an international half-century since last July, but Australia interim head coach McDonald says he remains the man to lead his country when they attempt to defend their T20 World Cup title on home soil.

"From my end, there's no conversation around the [prospect] that he won't be there," said McDonald.

"His form can ebb and flow – like most players' can – and his ability to work through these patches has been significant in his career.

"We had the same conversation about David Warner leading into the T20 World Cup last [year], so all these conversations are going to happen.

"Do we think he's still good enough to play this level? One hundred per cent yes. That's as simple as it gets for us and we're building a team around him as captain.

"It's a pretty significant pillar to be discussing about not being at the T20 World Cup. From our end, we think he can still play at this level, 100 per cent."

Finch will be one of only three players who are set to face Pakistan in Lahore that were part of the side that won the World Cup in Dubai last November.

Australia will be looking for a fourth consecutive T20 win over Pakistan, but they will have their work cut out as the hosts have come out on top in 10 of their past 11 home matches in the shortest format.

Babar a class apart

Captain Babar made back-to-back centuries to give Pakistan a first ODI series win over Australia for 20 years.

The irrepressible skipper has made a staggering three hundreds, as many half-centuries and 36 in his past five knocks for his country - demonstrating his class in all formats.

As the top-ranked player in the world in both white-ball formats, Australia must find a way to remove Babar before he is set.

McDermott and Head vying for opening spot

Either Ben McDermott or Travis Head look set to open with Finch in the only T20 match before Australia head home.

There was good news for the tourists when Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis returned negative COVID-19 tests, while Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green are in contention to make their T20I debuts.

Andrew McDonald refused to commit to wanting the Australia coaching role on a permanent basis after the tour of Pakistan ends as he needs more detail on the job and greater clarity.

Justin Langer guided Australia to a 4-0 Ashes thumping of England after lifting the T20 World Cup in December before rejecting a short-term contract extension with Cricket Australia (CA) in February.

CA's handling of the situation with Langer was widely scrutinised, with McDonald taking up an interim role to lead Australia to Pakistan for the first time since 1998.

Australia have fared well under his stewardship, claiming a 1-0 victory in the three-Test series and going 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series before falling to a 2-1 defeat, including a nine-wicket thrashing in the decider.

McDonald revealed he has held talks with the board about making his tenure permanent but is unwilling to commit to a definitive decision amid uncertainty surrounding the specifics of the role.

"Obviously the congested Test series didn't allow that but with a few more gaps in this one-day series I've had the opportunity to speak with Cricket Australia," McDonald said on Monday.

"Whether that becomes a follow-up conversation we'll wait and see. It will be pretty much like the other people who have no doubt spoken to Cricket Australia.

"Within the chats, there was no great detail or clarity on what the role would look like."

Pressed on whether he would like to take the job on a full-time basis, McDonald – whose influence has been praised by Test captain Pat Cummins – remained unsure.

"It depends on what it looks like, how Cricket Australia see the job unfolding and looking like and we'll get more detail on that going forward," he added.

"I don't really want to openly share what I think it should look like because that might put people in difficult situations throughout the process."

Australia conclude their tour of Pakistan with a one-off T20 on Tuesday and McDonald could have Josh Inglis and Ashton Agar to call upon after the pair recovered from COVID-19.

"[Agar and Inglis] returned their first negative test," he continued.

"They were in our last T20 set-up against Sri Lanka so depending on how they front for training, we will communicate with them on the possibility of playing."

Babar Azam hailed Pakistan's "historic" series win over Australia after scoring another century in a nine-wicket victory.

Pakistan bowled Australia all out for 210 before comfortably chasing down their target, thanks largely to the efforts of top-order batsmen Babar (105 not out) and Imam-ul-Haq (89 not out).

Babar also recorded triple figures in Pakistan's second ODI victory on Thursday, and his consecutive centuries proved decisive in the hosts beating Australia in back-to-back home ODIs for the first time since 1982.

Writing on Twitter after his crucial haul, Babar referred to his team-mates as "superstars" and thanked Pakistan's fans for their support in Lahore.

"A historic series win for Pakistan," wrote Babar, who has now plundered 16 ODI career centuries.

"[I] couldn't have asked for more from my pack of superstars, excellent performances from Imam, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf.

"To all our fans, thank you so much for your massive support!"

Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq posted: "This is historical, winning the ODI series against Australia 2-1 at home.

"Some phenomenal performances [were] witnessed by the batsmen and bowlers. Keep supporting our great Pakistan!"

Before failing to remove either Babar or Imam as they struggled with the ball, Australia lost their highest run-scorer of the series, Travis Head, to the first delivery of their own innings, leaving skipper Aaron Finch to bemoan a failure to set their hosts a more difficult target.

"We didn't get enough runs," Finch told reporters. "When you go three down in the first few overs, it's always going to be hard to get a big total."

Babar Azam scored another century as Pakistan beat Australia by nine wickets in Saturday's third ODI to claim a 2-1 series victory.

The Pakistan skipper registered triple figures in the hosts' thrilling second ODI win on Thursday and followed that up with an unbeaten 105 in the decider at Gaddafi Stadium.

Pakistan bowled their opponents all out for 210 and comfortably chased down their target in 37.5 overs thanks to Babar (105 not out) and Imam-ul-Haq (89 not out).

It marks the first time Pakistan have beaten Australia in back-to-back home ODIs since 1982, and the first time the Aussies have lost successive games in the format since 2020.

Aaron Finch and Travis Head were both removed by Pakistan for ducks and, while Ben McDermott (36) and top-scorer Alex Carey chipped away, the latter could only reach 56.

Haris Rauf in particular impressed with the ball, finishing with figures of 3-39, though Sean Abbott's 49 near the end of the innings did at least give Australia something to defend.

Zakhar Zaman was dismissed by pacer Nathan Ellis in the fourth over, but he had put on 17 runs by that point and Pakistan were 24-1.

Indeed, that proved to be the only wicket Australia managed to take as Babar and Imam-ul-Haq shared a 190-run partnership.

Imam's unbeaten 89 included six fours and one six, while Babar hit 12 fours to seal a dominant victory in Lahore.

Babar leads the way

Following this latest impressive display of leadership, Babar has now registered four centuries and three half centuries from nine ODI innings in Pakistan.

The 27-year-old has 16 ODI hundreds overall in 84 innings, second among Pakistan players only to Saeed Anwar, who has 20 in 244 innings.

Australia struggle with bat and ball

Australia used seven different bowlers through the Pakistan innings and none of them were able to make the key breakthrough by removing Babar or Imam.

The tone had been set a lot earlier in the day when, having been put in to bat first, the tourists lost Head, their highest run-scorer of the series, to the very first ball.

Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq hit centuries as Pakistan battled to a six-wicket victory over Australia on Thursday to level up their three-match ODI series at 1-1.

Australia won by 88 runs in Tuesday's opener and looked good value to claim a series win when posting 348-8 from their 50 overs at Gaddafi Stadium.

But led by inspirational skipper Azam (114) and Imam-ul-Haq (106), Pakistan claimed a gripping victory that was sealed by Iftikhar Ahmed (11 not out) with an over to spare.

The victory is Pakistan's first over Australia in 11 ODIs – coming from their highest ever successful ODI chase – and sets up a decider in Lahore on Saturday.

The tourists were cruising at 237-2, despite losing Aaron Finch for a duck, with Ben McDermott becoming the 50th different Australia player to register an ODI century.

Travis Head put on 89 runs and Marcus Stoinis 49 either side of McDermott (104), while Marnus Labuschagne (59) also registered a half-century, but Pakistan soon hit back.

McDermott was finally caught off pacer Mohammad Wasim and, after Alex Carey and Cameron Green fell for five each, Sean Abbott kept his side ticking over with a 16-ball 28.

Australia would have been disappointed to fall below the 400-runs mark, however, with Shaheen Afridi finishing with figures of 4-63, while Wasim took 2-56.

That 349-run target looked even more attainable when Pakistan reached 118 inside 19 overs before Fakhar Zaman (67) was sent packing by Stoinis out of nowhere.

Babar entered the fray at that point alongside Imam-ul-Haq and the pair put the hosts well on their way to a famous win, though momentum was halted slightly when the latter was caught by Labuschagne off Adam Zampa.

Babar was next to go and Zampa then took Mohammad Rizwan (23), but Khushdil Shah (27 not out) and Ahmed saw out the job to keep the series alive.

McDermott century not enough

Seeking an 11th successive ODI win over Pakistan, Australia must have felt they had done enough when McDermott and Head piled on 162 off 144 balls for the second wicket.

But Afridi, who missed the first clash with a knee injury, added to his golden duck of Finch by taking the wickets of Green, Stoinis and Abbott in the space of four overs.

Babar surpasses Azhar

Proving he is the right man for any occasion, Babar's century saw him overtake Azhar Ali for the most ODI hundreds as Pakistan skipper.

Indeed, after hitting 114 off 83 balls – which included 11 fours and one six – Babar is now level with Mohammad Yousuf (15) for the second-most hundreds for Pakistan in 50-over internationals.

Travis Head and Adam Zampa starred as Australia sealed an 88-run victory in the first ODI of their three-match series against Pakistan.

A depleted Australia batted first in Lahore, and their total of 313-7 proved beyond Pakistan's reach, despite Imam-ul-Haq making 103.

Head was the main Australian aggressor with a brilliant 101 from 72 deliveries that propelled the tourists to 171 by the time he was dismissed in the 25th over, with captain Aaron Finch (23) having played a supporting role in an opening partnership of 110.

Ben McDermott provided support with his maiden ODI half-century, though Australia lost three wickets for 21 runs in the space of seven overs as McDermott (55), Marnus Labuschagne (25) and Alex Carey (four) fell.

A flurry from Cameron Green, who hit four boundaries in a knock of 40 not out from 30 balls, gave Australia a competitive total to defend.

Fakhar Zaman was dismissed for 18 in the fifth over of Pakistan's reply, but Imam and skipper Babar Azam steadied the innings before the latter was trapped lbw by Mitchell Swepson.

Babar's steady 57 from 72 balls summed up Pakistan's issues, though, with the hosts unable to match the required run rate early in the innings.

Quick losses of Saud Shakeel (3), Mohammad Rizwan (10) and Iftikhar Ahmed (2) further damaged Pakistan's chances, despite Imam's fine work in reaching his eighth ODI century.

Imam's ton included nine boundaries, but he was then bowled by Nathan Ellis, shortly after Pakistan passed 200 with just five wickets down.

Zampa bowled Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim to bring up 100 ODI wickets and then moved onto 101 when Khushdil Shah lofted to Carey, with Swepson rounding things off.

Travis makes headway

It took Head just 70 deliveries to reach his second century in a 50-over match, which is the eighth-quickest in the format by an Australian batter, and the fastest against Pakistan by an Australian in an ODI.

His stay came to an end when he hit Shah to Iftikhar, while he also contributed to the bowling attack with figures of 2-35.

Zampa gets his ton

Dropped in and out of the attack by Finch, Zampa bowled superbly to finish with four wickets for 38 runs, becoming the 18th Australian bowler to take 100 ODI wickets.

While the pick of the bunch for Pakistan was Haris Rauf (2-44), Zampa spearheaded Australia as the tourists kept Pakistan's big hitters Imam and Babar – who became the second-fastest Pakistan batter to reach 4,000 ODI runs – scoring at a slow pace.

Aaron Finch stated that inexperience is no excuse for Australia not to target victory in their one-day series against Pakistan.

Australia edged out a hard-fought Test series 1-0, in what was an emotional tour for a variety of off-field reasons.

Three ODIs, originally scheduled to be held in Rawalpindi only to be moved to Lahore due to political unrest in Pakistan, now await before a solitary Twenty20.

The results will factor into the World Super League, with Australia sitting in seventh place, three spots above Babar Azam's team.

Australia have only played four ODIs since December 2020, and the last of those was back in July against West Indies.

They are also without some key names. Steve Smith has been ruled out due to an elbow injury, while Kane Richardson has been left at home to nurse a hamstring issue. Test captain Pat Cummins will not feature, and neither will Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, David Warner or Glenn Maxwell.

On Monday, meanwhile, Finch was dealt a further blow by news of a hip injury for Mitchell Marsh, who will miss the first match, and that wicketkeeper Josh Inglis had tested positive for COVID-19. Yet the T20 World Cup-winning skipper was in no mood to make excuses.

"Our goal 100 per cent is to win this series," Finch told reporters.

"We still feel like we have a squad to do that even though it is inexperienced. At times that can be a blessing because you have guys who can play freely and express themselves.

"It's about trying to build the depth of the squad and build experience in players. It's a really good opportunity. With every decision we make there is one eye towards the 50-over World Cup and to tie everything back to that is really important."

 

Cameron Green, who impressed in the Tests but has played just one ODI, will replace Marsh in the first ODI, while Alex Carey is set to slot in behind the stumps.

"Cam will play and probably bat in that middle-order role," Finch said. "We've seen he's a super talented cricketer. He's someone who has been quite consistent in his Test career, his impact with the bat and ball can't be understated. Really excited for Cam to get that opportunity."

Finch closing in on Warner and Waugh

Finch has not been in the best of form as of late. He last played an ODI in December 2020, against India, while he only scored above 10 on two occasions in the five-match T20 series against Sri Lanka earlier in 2022.

However, the 35-year-old is only one century away from equalling Warner and Mark Waugh on 18 ODI tons, which would put him joint-second on Australia's all-time list, behind Ricky Ponting, who is way ahead on 29.

Finch at least heads into the series knowing Australia have a fine record against Pakistan in 50-over matches, having won 15 of their last 16 such meetings, including triumphing in their last nine on the bounce, with the sole defeat coming in January 2017.

Australia also like playing in Lahore, winning four of their seven ODIs at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Finch's hopes of improving his place in the Aussie record books are also boosted by the fact that Australian batters have scored nine ODI centuries since the start of 2020, which is second only to South Africa (10) in that timeframe.

 

Another milestone approaches for Babar 

Finch's counterpart Babar batted well in the Test series, scoring a brilliant 196 in the second match and amassing 122 runs across his two innings in the final game, albeit to no avail.

The Pakistan captain needs just 15 runs to become the 15th player from his country to register 4,000 in ODIs. Should he manage it in his next innings, he will become the second-fastest batter to reach the milestone (82 matches), after Hashim Amla (81).

Babar and Pakistan will have to watch Adam Zampa closely. The spinner is just three wickets away from becoming Australia's 18th bowler to take 100 in 50-over cricket, while his best figures against Pakistan were 4-43 in March 2019.

The hosts, too, are blooding new players. Uncapped duo Asif Afridi and Mohammad Harris have been called up, while Abdullah Shafique, who scored 397 runs across six innings in the Test series, is in line for his ODI debut.

Pat Cummins says popular interim head coach Andrew McDonald must take great credit for the "huge part" he played in Australia's 1-0 Test series win in Pakistan.

McDonald was placed in temporary charge following Justin Langer's shock resignation last month.

The 40-year-old oversaw Australia's first overseas Test series triumph in six years, Nathan Lyon taking 5-83 and Cummins 3-23 on the final day to secure a 115-run victory at Gaddafi Stadium.

McDonald is the favourite to land the role on a permanent basis and captain Cummins is full of praise for the former all-rounder.

Asked about the job McDonald has done, he said: "Fantastic. Not unexpected. He's a great operator.

"The boys absolutely love him. Very diligent, very thorough, strategic, very organised. He's a huge part of this tour win."

Cummins would clearly welcome a decision for McDonald to stay on.

The paceman added: "His preparation, and all the support staff's. It's not just the 11 players who walk out; we've got a squad of 30-odd people who have been working so hard this month, and it's also important.

"I've said before it's not my place to employ the coach, but Ronnie [McDonald] has been fantastic."

 

Babar Azam was left to rue "soft dismissals" but says he has "full faith" in Pakistan after they suffered a 1-0 Test series defeat to Australia.

Nathan Lyon claimed 5-83 and the magnificent Pat Cummins took 3-23 as the tourists bowled Pakistan out for 235 on the final day to win by 115 runs at Gaddafi Stadium.

Imam-ul-Haq made 70 and the brilliant Babar 55, but Pakistan crumbled from 142-2 as Lyon snaffled a 19th five-wicket Test haul and man of the match Cummins finished with match figures of 8-79.

Captain Babar knows Pakistan only have themselves to blame after watching Australia get their hands on the Benaud-Qadir Trophy.

He said: "We didn't go defensive, we played positive cricket. You plan according to the situation. It's not like you go out, play big shots and go for the runs.

"We had a good session early in the day, but unfortunately we had soft dismissals and that's the reason we lost the game.

"We had a simple plan: to take the momentum in hand first and then think [about chasing the victory] after the tea. After lunch, we had a plan to play normal cricket.

"We weren't able to decide whether to go for a win or a draw. But with all those wickets falling, we decided to go deep as much as we could, but we were positive throughout.

"There were continuous discussions in our dressing room about chasing it down. But when your main batters are dismissed, you obviously start thinking differently.

"Still, Sajid [Khan] and I were trying to build a partnership and extend as much as we could, hoping we could draw. Yet we never held back, kept on playing shots and utilised whatever came in our area. So the mindset was positive but it didn't go in our way."

Babar is totally behind his players and is not contemplating making changes.

He added: "Overall the series went well, especially the Karachi Test where we dominated and saved the match. Unfortunately, I got out but even then we had our mindset on chasing.

"But mistakes are part of the game and it's too early to think about changes [to the team]. We don't have to forget their recent performances.

"Our entire team is experienced now, we have developed a good combination and I have full faith in them."

Pat Cummins says every member of the Australia side proved they can thrive in Asian conditions after they sealed a 1-0 Test series win over Pakistan.

Nathan Lyon took 5-83 and outstanding captain Cummins claimed 3-23 as the tourists won by 115 runs on the final day at Gaddafi Stadium to claim the Benaud-Qadir Trophy.

Both bowling attacks were made to toil on flat pitches throughout the three-match series in Australia's first tour of Pakistan since 1998.

Pakistan were unable to avoid defeat under pressure in Lahore, though, collapsing from 165-3 to 235 all out.

Test Championship leaders Australia face Sri Lanka in a two-match series in July and travel to India next year.

Man of the match Cummins says they will take huge confidence from beating Pakistan in their own backyard when they take on those challenges.

"It's probably potentially not as spinning conditions here as we might get in Sri Lanka," said the paceman.

"But I think in the past Asian tours that I've been on, there's a lot of talk when we leave Australia that we've got to change everything about our game to succeed over here.

"This is a good lesson that the basics of batting or bowling that make you a good player in Australia can hold up over here. If anything, I think it's reaffirmed that our games will hold up."

The number one Test bowler in the world added: "The amount of confidence we'll get out of winning over here, not just as a team but so many individuals.

"Every individual had their moment and has shown that their game stands up to Asian conditions. So it's huge for Sri Lanka later in the year, India next year. That's awesome."

For the time being, the tourists will savour a richly deserved series win.

Cummins said: "Everyone's just totally elated. Winning overseas just doesn't happen very often. It's been a real toil for the last 25, 30 days.

"We knew it was going to be totally different to normal life in Australia, under different conditions. And to come away with a series win is hugely satisfying."

Nathan Lyon took five wickets as Australia beat Pakistan by 115 runs in the third and final Test to claim a 1-0 series triumph.

There was nothing to separate the sides in the opening two Tests and the decider also went the distance, with Australia claiming victory inside the final session in Lahore.

Off-spinner Lyon posted figures of 5-83 in Pakistan's second innings, including the wickets of Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, while Pat Cummins picked up three for 23.

Pakistan required 278 runs heading into Friday's session at the Gaddafi Stadium, but they only managed 163 as they folded 235 all out in their reply to Australia's target of 351.

The hosts' hopes were boosted as they reached lunch on 136-2, with Abdullah Shafique (27) and Azhar Ali (17) the first to fall.

But momentum shifted when Pakistan lost the wickets of Imam-ul-Haq, who led the scoring with 70 runs, Fawad Alam (11) and Mohammad Rizwan (0) in quick succession

However, replays showed that Rizwan would have survived had he reviewed the umpire's LBW decision.

Babar, the hero in Pakistan's record fightback in the second Test, made a contribution of 55 runs before being caught by Steve Smith off the bowling of Lyon.

Pakistan's remaining four wickets went for just 22 runs, with Lyon taking Ali Hasan (13) for his fifth wicket and Cummins cleaning up Naseem Shah (1) to complete the job.


Lyon leads from the front

Pakistan's stunning resistance in the second Test and strong start to their second innings in Lahore always meant this thrilling contest was going to go to the wire.

Australia prevailed with an hour to spare in the end thanks in large to Lyon, whose 5-83 from 37 overs will go down as one of his most important Test hauls.


Rare Lahore loss for Pakistan

Australia have lost just one of their last 11 Tests against Pakistan, with this just the hosts' second loss in 13 Tests at Gaddafi Stadium, and a first since 2002 (v Sri Lanka).

This is the Baggy Greens' first away Test series win since beating New Zealand in 2016, meanwhile, and a first in Asia in 11 years.

It all comes down to this. After 14 days of Test cricket that has yet to produce a match-winner, Pakistan's home series against Australia will be decided on the final day in Lahore, and it could hardly be any more tantalisingly poised.

Australia opener Usman Khawaja delivered another classy century on Thursday, remarkably his fourth of the calendar year, as Australia posted 227-3 declared to set Pakistan a target of 351 for victory in the third and final Test.

The tourists would have wanted to make inroads into their opponents' top order before the close, but instead Pakistan reached 73 without loss from the 27 overs they faced after Australia's post-tea declaration.

It means Pakistan require a further 278 runs for victory and Australia need 10 wickets on day five at the Gaddafi Stadium, where something surely has to give.

 

Australia's men are unbeaten in their last seven Tests (W4 D3), and Pakistan have not lost any of their last five (W3 D2).

The Australians have been beaten only once by Pakistan in the last nine Tests between the sides, yet Pakistan have just a single defeat in their last 12 Tests at this ground, and that was against Sri Lanka all the way back in March 2002.

After draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi, this match looks ripe to produce a victory for one of the teams, but it could easily go either way.

Australia were 11-0 at the start of play and reached 96 without any loss when Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled David Warner for 51 with a sensationally good delivery. Khawaja kept going and anchored the innings with 104 not out, Marnus Labuschagne weighing in with 36 and Steve Smith passing 8,000 career Test runs in making 17.

Captain Pat Cummins declared early in the late-afternoon session, once the lead passed 350, but Abdullah Shafique (27 not out) and Imam-ul-Haq (42 not out) helped Pakistan to the close without any damage.

Shafique used up a life moments before the close when he edged spinner Labuschagne past the left hand of Smith at first slip, potentially a highly costly miss by the fielder.


Khawaja does it again

Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan, did not play a Test between matches against England in August 2019 and January of this year. It is testament to Australia's resources that they could afford to leave out a batter of his quality. The 35-year-old made 91 in the first innings of this match and surpassed that second time around.

He now has 751 runs in five Tests this year, far and away the most of anyone in Tests. Shafique is second on that list, with 397 runs and counting.

Record for Smith, but dropped catch sours his day

Australia would have ended the day on a high if Smith had clung on to the sharp chance from the penultimate delivery of the day. Shafique drove aggressively at Labuschagne, who drew the edge but saw the ball race away to the boundary rather than stick in Smith's claw.

Smith earlier reached his runs landmark in his 151st Test innings, the fewest of any batsman to have reached 8,000 Test runs.

Steve Smith set a world record by reaching 8,000 Test runs on Thursday, as the Australia talisman became the batter to reach that total in the fewest innings.

Former captain Smith became the seventh Australian to reach the landmark figure, doing so in his second innings against Pakistan in Lahore.

The 32-year-old had reached 7,993 runs by making 59 in Australia's first innings, and he wasted little time in reaching his early target second time around.

A four off Hasan Ali took Smith through the 8,000 barrier in his 151st Test innings. That saw him beat the previous record of 152 innings to reach 8,000, set by Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara.

Australia reached tea on day four on 202-2, with Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 101 and Smith on 12 alongside him.

That gave the tourists a lead of 325 runs and raised the possibility of captain Pat Cummins declaring before the close.

The six Australia batters to reach 8,000 runs before Smith joined the club were Ricky Ponting, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Mark Waugh.

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc ripped through Pakistan on day three of the third Test to leave Australia scenting a series victory at Gaddafi Stadium.

Captain Cummins and fellow paceman Starc were lethal in the evening session as Pakistan collapsed from 214-2 to 268 all out in reply to Australia's 391 in Lahore.

The outstanding Cummins took 5-56 and Starc 4-33, with Babar Azam's side unable to contend with the reverse swing and pace they generated with the second new ball.

Abdullah Shafique (81), Azhar Ali (78) and Babar (67) had put Pakistan in a promising position, but they lost seven wickets in the final session before Australia closed on 11 without loss - leading by 134 runs.

Australia were unable to make a breakthrough in the morning session after Pakistan resumed on 90-1, Shafique and Azhar bringing up their half-centuries as they added 69 runs before lunch.

A second-wicket stand of 150 finally ended when Nathan Lyon got Shafique caught behind following a review, but Steve Smith was unable to take chances to remove Babar on 20 and Azhar, when he had 62 to his name, in the slips as the runs flowed more freely.

Azhar passed 7,000 Test runs, but Pakistan were 214-3 when Cummins took a brilliant catch off his own bowling to end his excellent knock.

Starc then cleaned up Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan as the momentum swung dramatically in Australia's favour after tea, with the magnificent Cummins also conjuring up substantial reverse swing as he saw the back of Sajid Khan, Nauman Ali and Hasan Ali to claim a five-wicket haul.

Babar was trapped leg before by Starc, who then produced a searing delivery that crashed into Naseem Shah's off stump to end Pakistan's innings with a flash. Usman Khawaja and David Warner then saw off three overs as Australia took command.

Cummins and Starc produce pace-bowling masterclass

After spending much of the day toiling with wickets hard to come by once again, Starc and Cummins were at their brilliant best late in the day.

They got the ball swinging, while also bowling perfect lengths at pace to tear through the Pakistan order, taking seven wickets for 20 runs.

Cummins became the first paceman to take a five-wicket haul in the series and his seventh in the longest format, producing a peach of a delivery that Sajid chopped on before pinning Nauman leg before and getting Hasan caught by Smith.

 

Pakistan crumble after trio build strong foundations

It looked like a first-innings lead was there for the taking for Pakistan courtesy of fine knocks from Shafique, Azhar and Babar.

The trio batted superbly on a good pitch, but the middle order and tail was blown away by Cummins and Starc, with three batters falling without scoring and Rizwan only making one.

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