Pak vs Aus: Nathan Lyon five-for, Pat Cummins take Australia to 1-0 series win on final day
Australia 391 (Khawaja 91, Green 79, Naseem 4-58) and 227 for 3 Dec (Khawaja 104*, Warner 51, Naseem 1-23) beat Pakistan 268 (Shafique 81, Cummins 5-56, Starc 4-33) and 235 (Imam 70, Lyon 5-83, Cummins 3-23) by 115 runs veteran spinner Nathan Lyon resoundingly answered the critics with five wickets on the final day, as Australia’s unwavering attack ended Pakistan’s resistance late on day five to win the deciding third Test by 115 runs.
Lyon claimed 5 for 83, while Player of the Match Pat Cummins finished a brilliant series with 3 for 23, and eight wickets in the Test. Needing 351 to win or batting through 121 overs – both feats never achieved in Lahore before – Pakistan were dismissed for 235 after losing five wickets in the final session. In the historic first series between the teams in Pakistan since 1998, Australia broke the deadlock after draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi. It is the same 1-0 scoreline that Mark Taylor’s team famously achieved 24 years ago. After giving Pakistan a sniff with a bold declaration, captain Cummins was vindicated as he led Australia to their first overseas Test series victory since 2016, as they also ended their 11-year drought in Asia.
Pakistan’s hopes nosedived when captain Babar Azam fell for 55 after tea when Steven Smith took a sharp catch near his left boot off Lyon. After a torrid series in the slips, Smith atoned in a big moment to put Australia on course for victory. Australia were relieved after Babar, who had produced a masterful 196 to secure a draw in Karachi, had been dropped before tea by Travis Head at deep midwicket after rashly charging Lyon. He also may have enjoyed some luck moments earlier when Australia chose not to review after he prodded a Lyon delivery that ballooned to a diving Smith at slip.
With just one review left, Cummins chose not to pull the trigger but replays showed Babar may have gloved the ball. Australia’s nerves were raised when Babar played fluently against the second new ball but his dismissal sucked the life out of the crowd, as Australia soon claimed their first Test win against Pakistan in Asia since 2002. Cummins was predictably brilliant with the ball and gave Australia a stranglehold with a superb burst before tea to dismiss Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan. He made all the right moves, starting with his sporting declaration late on day four, which dangled a carrot to Pakistan, who had defied the odds during their remarkable chase of 506 in Karachi when they finished at 443 for 7 from 171.4 overs.
Cummins, who remains unbeaten as skipper from seven Tests, knew the slow Lahore surface marked by low bounce offered more assistance for bowlers than flat pitches in Rawalpindi and Karachi. Having struggled recently in bowling Australia to victory on the final day, Lyon proved a point with a five-wicket haul as he expertly targeted the rough patches and occasionally made deliveries spit off the wicket.
He started his terrific performance by removing Imam-ul-Haq for 70 with his second ball after lunch when he had the opener inside-edging to a silly point. It was a reward for Lyon’s accuracy and Cummins’ persistence with deploying four catchers around the bat. Lyon had also toiled manfully in the middle of day three to fuel Australia’s fightback just when Pakistan appeared set for a mammoth first-innings total.
Amid batting-friendly conditions throughout, Australia’s series victory was built on the back of indefatigable batting, even though Player of the Series Usman Khawaja was their only centurion. Pakistan-born Khawaja enjoyed a remarkable homecoming with 496 runs at 165.33 and two hundred, while Australia had enough contributors without any other standouts. Pakistan will rue a horrendous batting collapse on day three when they had lost 7 for 20, as they eventually fell short of staving off defeat for the second straight match.
They were left to ponder the decision to deploy a five-pronged bowling attack at the expense of allrounder Faheem Ashraf, which left their batting weakened. Even though they faced a daunting task, the hosts entered the final day with hope. But it soon eroded in the first session after the controversial dismissal of Azhar Ali for 17 following an overturned review. Replays detected a faint edge from an attempted sweep off Lyon that lobbed to Smith at first slip. Smith was absolutely convinced that he had heard a sound, but replays only detected the slightest deviation in the wave.
In his 94th Test – and first in his hometown – Azhar’s match ended in major disappointment as he trudged off angrily in a blow for Pakistan who had earlier lost in-form Abdullah Shafique for 27. Pakistan were again dependent on Babar, and fans in the terraces still believed he could produce something miraculous on the 30th anniversary of Pakistan’s World Cup triumph at the MCG. But those dreams were thwarted by Australia’s sustained attack, which never buckled in the series despite flat conditions and formidable Pakistan batting. Fittingly, Cummins claimed the final wicket after comprehensively bowling Naseem Shah to trigger memorable celebrations for Australia who have waited a long time to savor victory in Pakistan.