Pakistan vs Australia: Focus on pitch again in decider
Both Pakistan and Australia expect the Gaddafi Stadium pitch for the decisive third and final Test in Lahore to be more or less similar to those of the first two games. The final Test begins from Monday.
The docile, lifeless wicket in the opening Test at the Pindi Cricket Stadium saw only 14 wickets falling. That pitch thereafter received one demerit point after being rated “below average” by the ICC.
The wicket for the second Test in Karachi too was loaded in favour of batsmen. Pakistan didn’t seem to be having too much of a problem in carving out a draw even though they had to bat for almost two full days after Australia had set them a 506-run target.
That Pakistan got bowled out for a paltry 148 in response to Australia’s first innings total of 556 for 9 declared was primarily to some excellent reverse-swing bowling by the visitors’ fast bowlers, led by Mitchell Starc.
Ahead of the decisive Test in Lahore, the Pakistan Cricket Board flew in ICC academy curator Toby Lumsden, who has assisted the local ground staff to prepare the Gaddafi wicket. The Australians, though, don’t seem to be too pleased with the nature of the pitch.
“In terms of the wicket, it will be quite similar to the first two Test matches,” captain Pat Cummins said on the eve of the Test. “There has been quite a lot of traffic here throughout the PSL (Pakistan Super League). So I will expect a lot like that first two matches.
“It won’t be super friendly for the pace bowlers, while there may not be a bit of reverse swing too. So we will wait and see,” Cummins added.
His counterpart Babar Azam, however, feels spinners may get some assistance from the surface as it has small cracks. “It’s not much different. It looks the same like in previous Tests, but I feel it will definitely have some turn,” Babar, who hit 196 in the fourth innings to help Pakistan draw the second Test, stated.
The Aussies appear to be in a fix as to whether they should go in unchanged or not.
“There wasn’t enough bounce in the wickets. So probably four times out of five, if there’s a nick, it won’t carry to the slip fielder standing all the way back,” Cummins pointed out.
(Match starts: 10.30am (IST). Live on Sony Six & Sony Six HD channels)