Cummins and Marsh lead fightback Test Match against Pakistan

Cricket News, Australia fight back to finish 187-6 on day three, a lead of 241 runs which leaves Pakistan battling to break their 16-Test losing streak in Australia

Dec 28, 2023 - 11:49
Dec 28, 2023 - 11:51

Cricket News AUS vs PAK,

Pakistan looked set to blow their best chance to win a Test in Australia for a generation as Mitch Marsh capitalized on a simple drop catch to lift the hosts out of a historic slump at the MCG.

Marsh (96), along with Steve Smith (50) saw off Pakistan's best in the Boxing Day Test, rescuing their side from 4-16 - Australia's worst start to a Test innings at the MCG since 1911.

The pair combined for a fifth-wicket stand of 153 to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series to take box-seated Australia to 6-187 at stumps on day three, a lead of 241. 16th straight home Test against Pakistan.

But Smith dismissed Pakistan quick Shaheen Afridi (3-58) on the last ball of the day, leaving wicketkeeper Alex Carey (16 not out) to resume with Mitchell Starc on Friday.
Pakistan would have been in complete control of the Test if opening batsman Abdullah Shafiq had not taken an easy catch at slip for the second time in three days. After dismissing Warner in the third over of the match on day one, Shafiq squandered a golden opportunity to dismiss Marsh when Australia were 4-46 on Thursday.

Commenting on the Seven Network, Pakistan's great walker Younis said, “It was a big, big chance ... it could be the difference between winning and losing this game. "Pakistan have fought so hard in all these matches and this catch could cost them in this match."

The missed opportunity from Pakistan's improbable charge evaporated as Marsh continued his scintillating form since being called up to the squad for the third Test of this year's Ashes. But in a remarkable turn of events, Marsh (96) fell short of his fourth Test century when Salman Ali Agha took a superb diving catch at slip.

Smith struggled to his first Test 50 since the Ashes, off 176 balls, the second slowest half-century of his brilliant career.

Pakistan quicks Afridi and Mir Hamza (3-27) wreaked havoc either side of the lunch break to swing the match in favor of the visitors. Hamza scored a hat-trick after bowling David Warner (6) and Travis Head (not out first ball) in consecutive deliveries to push Australia to 4-16.
The devastating spell brought back memories of Pakistan's heyday when batsmen like Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan terrorized batsmen with swing bowling.
Warner was given a standing ovation from the MCG crowd after leaving what was to be his last Test innings at the famous ground before retiring after next week's series final in Sydney.

Australia went into lunch on Thursday at 2-6 after Usman Khawaja (duck) and Marnus Labuschagne (4) both fell during a chaotic 15 minutes of play. Australia were forced to bat for a critical time before the break after Pakistan were bowled out for 264 runs.

Earlier, captain Pat Cummins took his 10th five-wicket haul in Tests to end Pakistan's innings. Cummins, who swung the second Test for Australia on day two, grabbed two wickets to finish with figures of 5-48 on Thursday morning.

In reply to Australia's 318, Pakistan's notoriously brittle tails showed more resistance than expected to push them to 6-194 overnight. Fast bowler Amer Jamal scored an unbeaten 33, while Afridi (21), who averaged 6.74 with the bat, also hit his mark. His way to the highest test score.

Cummins had excellent support from spinner Nathan Lyon (4-73), who has the fifth-most Test scalps at the MCG and shows no signs of slowing down after breaking into the 500-wicket club during the first Test in Perth. Among Australian bowlers who have taken more than 100 Test wickets, Cummins has the best strike-rate (47.25), followed by Mitchell Starc (48.94).

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