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Australia whitewash Pakistan 3-0 in the three Test series – preserves 28 year Gabba record

Sydney, January 7: Australia defeated Pakistan by 220 runs to clinch the series 3-0 after the visitors were bowled out for 244 on the final day of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here on Saturday.

Resuming at 55/1, Pakistan started the proceedings on a poor note as overnight batsman Azhar Ali (11) returned to the pavilion without contributing to the score. He was taken by Jose Hazlewood in the 17th over.

The fall of Ali’s wicket brought in Babar Azam (9), who is going thorugh a poor phase once again failed to score and was sent packing after three overs, Hazlewood claiming him leg before wicket.

Veteran batsman Younis Khan (13) who scored an unbeaten 175 for his 34th Test hundred in the first innings was the next to go. He was caught in the deep off Nathan Lyon in the 30th over.

Nightwatchman Yasir Shah, who seemed good at the crease and was holding the one end also failed to step up to the Australian challenge and was departed by Stephen Norman John O’Keefe just before lunch. He played 93 balls and made 13 runs.

Apart from Sarfraz Ahmed (72 not out) no other batsmen in the middle and lower order contributed to the cause and and were seeing packing one after the other.

For Australia, Hazlewood and spinner Steve O’Keefe snared three wickets each while Lyon scalped two wickets.

In the second Test of the series, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on Boxing Day, Australia thrashed Pakistan, riding on a powerful bowling performance for a win by an innings and 18 runs in the second on December 30.

Then, leading three-Test series 2-0, Australia’s Mitchell Starc was the most successful among the Australian bowlers with figures of 4/36. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon returned 3/33 while pacers Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird notched up 2/39 and 1/46 respectively.

Opener Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed were the only Pakistani batsmen who managed to challenge the hosts, scoring 43 runs each.

Younis Khan and Azhar Ali added 57 runs between then before the former misjudged the bounce of a Nathan Lyon delivery only to find Peter Handscomb at short leg.

That was the last bit of real resistance the Pakistanis could produce as the Australians stamped their dominance on the proceedings.

Earlier, starting at the overnight score of 465/6, Australia captain Steven Smith and Starc completed a 154-run partnership to hand the advantage to the hosts.

In the first Test, of the series, Australia edged past Pakistan by 39 runs – preserving its 28 year Gabba record in Brisbane.

Australia managed to preserve their unbeaten streak at Brisbane’s Gabba Ground, as the hosts clinched the first cricket Test against Pakistan by 39 runs.

Home skipper Steve Smith ran leg-spinner Yasir Shah out for 33 to end Pakistan’s resistance on the final day of the day-night encounter and take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test rubber.

Chasing a mammoth 490, Pakistan rode on Asad Shafiq’s brilliant 137 to score 450 in their second essay before Australia pulled back by taking the remaining two wickets in the first session of play.

Resuming the day at 382/8, Pakistan had a ray of hope in Shafiq, who was unbeaten on 100 and leg-spinner Yasir Shah (4) as the duo battled the initial hiccups to add 67 runs to the overnight total.

But the visitors’ attempt to break their nine-match losing streak Down Under was foiled when Shafiq was caught shortly before Shah’s dismissal in the same over.

His brilliant innings, laced with 13 fours and a six, was ended when pacer Mitchell Starc’s short-pitched delivery came off the shoulder of his bat and lobbed to David Warner at gully for a crucial catch.

Shafiq and Shah kept the pressure on Australia in a 71-run partnership that went close to giving Pakistan an unlikely world-record victory after being set 490 to win. So far, no team has ever scored more than 418 while chasing in the second innings.

Considering Pakistan’s recent record in the longest version, it was a courageous effort from the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side, who were bowled out for 142 in their first innings in response to Australia’s first innings score of 429.

Smith, however, decided against enforcing the follow-on and instead declared at 202/5, setting the Pakistanis a massive target.

Australia prevented a world-record and preserved their 28-year unbeaten streak at Brisbane’s Gabba ground, to win a gripping first Test by just 39 runs.

Raj Kumar

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