Pakistan chasing 278 on final day after Australia declare


Pakistan survived an interesting last session to reach 73-0 on day four after a bold protestation by Australia set a tricky target of 351 runs in the series- deciding third test on Thursday.

Opening batters Imam-ul-Haq, 42 not out, and Abdullah Shafique, 27 not out, survived TV referrals against offspinner Nathan Lyon to leave the home platoon still demanding 278 runs in a minimum 90 overs on the last day Friday.

Shafique had a close escape when Steve Smith’s poor run in the slips continued as the Australiavice-captain could not hold onto a sharp chance out Marnus Labuschagne’s penultimate ball of the day.

Captain Pat Cummins declared Australia’s alternate innings at 227-3 shortly after tea, Usman Khawaja having achieved an unbeaten 104, his alternate consecutive century to round off a brilliant stint to the country of his birth.

It gave Australia nearly four sessions to have a crack at Pakistan, after missing out in the alternate test at Karachi where Pakistan maundered for171.4 overs and forced an grand draw.

The worn-out pitch at Lahore encouraged Cummins after Pakistan collapsed to 268 in the first innings against the brutal rear swing of Cummins and Mitchell Starc to concede a massive 123-runs lead.

Khawaja featured in three half-century daises and raised his hundred at the stroke of tea as Australia cauterized the rear swing of Naseem Shah (1-23) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-45) while scoring freely against baits Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan.

Khawaja made 97 in the drawn first Test at Rawalpindi and followed with 160 and 44 not out at Karachi. Despite being ill on the opening day of this test, Khawaja scored 91 in the first innings. The left-hander has an emotional 496 runs at a series normal of165.33.

Khawaja combined in a 96- run opening stage with David Warner, who was clean sailed on 51 by Afridi in the penultimate over before lunch.

Labuschagne, with 36, also participated another brisk 65- run stage with Khawaja before he swept hard at left-arm incentive Nauman and was caught at deep midwicket in the alternate session.

Smith scored only 17 but on 7 came the fastest batter to test runs in his 151st inning, one quicker than former Sri Lanka commander Kumar Sangakkara. Naseem plant the outside edge of Smith’s club soon after tea.

In an important morning session, Pakistan missed out on dismissing Warner beforehand; Khawaja escaped on 31 after he was sailed off Naseem’s no-ball and also adjudge Aleem Dar was involved in an animated discussion with Warner likely about how and where the stager was running on the deteriorating pitch.

Warner indeed removed his helmet and gloves, swapping words with Dar before play proceeded after nearly three twinkles.

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