After a slow start to day three, Pat Cummins produced a mind-boggling bowling spell to put Australia in a winning position in Lahore.
Australian pacemen Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc have absolutely obliterated Pakistan’s batting attack in Lahore, combining to take nine wickets on day three of the third Test.
Pakistan was seemingly cruising towards another mammoth first innings total before the hosts lost 7/20 in a cataclysmic collapse, with the two Aussie spearheads working in tandem to bowl Pakistan out for 268, still trailing by 123 runs.
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Cummins finished with figures of 5/56 to claim the first five-wicket haul by a pace bowler in the series, turning the match heavily in Australia’s favour.
Wickets had been few and far between for the Australians before Starc struck twice in quick succession to dismiss Fawad Alam for 13 and Mohammad Rizwan for 1.
The left-armer clean bowled Rizwan with an absolute jaffa that clipped the top of off stump, sending his teammates into uproar.
Cummins followed soon after with a seed of his own that seamed back a mile and Sajid Khan chopped onto his stumps.
The Aussie skipper then sent both Naumi Ali and Hasan Ali back to the sheds for a duck with an absolutely plumb LBW shout and an edge that carried to first slip.
Starc cleaned up the tail, removing Pakistan captain Babar Azam and tailender Haseem Shah in the 117th over to wrap up the demolition in style.
Australian openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja survived a nervy three-over passage before stumps to put the visitors in commanding position, leading by 134 runs with 10 wickets in hand.
Day four of the series decider will resume on Thursday afternoon AEDT, with the first ball scheduled for 4pm.
Pat Cummins takes an absolute screamer
While his teammates are dropping catches, Pat Cummins just showed them how it’s done.
Azhai Ali whacked a delivery from the Aussie captain back towards him and while falling to his left, Cummins somehow reached to his right and took a superb return catch.
He showed excellent athleticism to pluck the ball from the air as he was running past it.
“What a catch! That was absolutely sensational from Pat Cummins, a remarkable catch,” commentator Mike Haysman said.
Waqar Younis called the grab “simply outstanding” while Rob Key was full of praise for Cummins.
“He is extraordinary the way he is able to just keep coming,” Key said. “He never lets up, every single ball.
Cricket reporter Melinda Farrell tweeted: “Wow. Out of absolutely nowhere, Cummins finds something brilliant. Leading the way on one of the toughest grinding periods in this series.”
Cricket writer Daniel Brettig said: “Just an incredible return catch by Cummins. It was almost past him.”
Aussies finally get breakthrough
Australia finally claimed its first wicket of the day shortly after the lunch break when Nathan Lyon found the outside edge of Abdullah Shafique and Alex Carey took the catch.
It was originally given not out by the umpire but the Aussies used their last review successfully, with snicko showing the ball just caught the edge of Shafique’s bat and he was on his way for 81.
Swepson fuming after Smith drops catch
Steve Smith’s reputation as one of the best fielders in world cricket has taken a hit this series and he didn’t help his cause by putting down a tough chance just before lunch.
Mitchell Swepson tossed one up to Azhar Ali, who pushed at it hard nicked it towards Smith at slip.
But Smith was wrong-footed and the ball flew through his left hand.
Swepson was fuming at the missed chance and punched the air in anger.
Cricket writer Melinda Farrell tweeted: “The air around Swepson has a black eye from how hard he just punched it. Pure frustration.”
The SMH’s Tom Decent said: “Swepson’s reaction there after Smith chance says it all. He’d be filthy after drops in Karachi too.”
Australia’s wasted review as desperate as it gets
Australia is yet to take a wicket on day three and judging by their latest review, the tourists are getting very desperate for a breakthrough.
A Mitchell Starc delivery struck Shafique on the pad but it looked to be clearly going down the leg side.
But captain Pat Cummins surprisingly decided to go upstairs for a review, which showed the ball comfortably missing the stumps.
Australia has just one review left, after wasting another on an a LBW call on day two in similar fashion.
Sports reporter Oliver Caffrey tweeted: “There’s desperate, then there’s Australia’s last two reviews.”
Green makes surprising admission
On day two, Cameron Green was bowled by Naseem Shah after a resolute 223-minute stay intermittently lit up by nine boundaries.
“He bowled really well all day,” Green said of the 19-year-old Pakistani.
“He was getting the ball to reverse pretty largely both ways. Unfortunately just lack of concentration when you’ve been batting out there for a while.
“I thought I saw the ball go away from me but it came back in. That’s kind of what you face over here.”
While Green has made a promising start to his Test career, he is yet to record a maiden century and the all-rounder admitted it is starting to weigh on his mind.
“Unfortunately I keep having thoughts going through my head when I’m out in the middle,” he said.
“It’s becoming a bit of an issue because they keep popping in. I’ve got to keep working on that, feel comfortable when you get close to it, and hopefully it comes one day.”
Green’s knock of 79 was his fourth score between 74 and 84 in the 12 Tests he’s played so far.
When asked if he was more eager about scoring a century or claiming a five-wicket haul, Green replied: “Definitely a Test hundred.
“It’s something I’ve been working towards my whole life and if it comes that would be awesome.”