Pakistan captain Babar Azam predicts another slow wicket will test batting patience and skill when his side meet Australia in the third and final litmus test on Monday.
Babar played an epic blow in the fourth leg of the Second Test when his marathon 196 challenged Australia for over 10 hours and forced a draw in Karachi to keep the series locked at 0-0.
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Aussie spinners Nathan Lyon and debutant Mitchell Swepson hit 108 of 172 overs in Round 4 in Karachi but Pakistan held the visitors at bay by scoring 443-7 in more than five sessions, trailing the mammoth 63 506. -execute the target.
The docile, lifeless wicket in the tame Test at Rawalpindi saw Australia pick up just four of 14 wickets to go and the ground at Pindi Cricket Stadium also received a demerit point after being rated as ‘below average’ “by the ICC.
After the criticism of the Rawalpindi wicket, the Pakistan Cricket Board brought in ICC Academy Curator Toby Lumsden who assisted the local ground staff in preparing the Lahore Test wicket.
“It’s not much different, it looks like the same pitch but I feel it’s definitely going to change,” Babar told reporters via video link on Sunday.
“There are small cracks that the spinners could get some help from, but you can’t tell 100% because of the hot conditions. Either way, our spinners are ready and will fight.
Australia’s historic first tour of Pakistan since 1998 has added significance in the series decider. Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will host its first Test in 13 years since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 led to a long absence of international cricket in the country.
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None of the Pakistani players played a test match at Gaddafi Stadium where Babar made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 when Pakistan started their campaign to win back the trust of foreign teams and the resumption of international cricket.
Test cricket resumed in Pakistan in 2019 when Sri Lanka toured Pakistan while Bangladesh and South Africa also played Test matches, but in Karachi and Rawalpindi, rather than Lahore.
“You have a different feeling when you play on your pitch and in front of your audience,” Babar said. “Certainly it will be a proud moment for all of us if we win the home series because we think we are improving day by day.”
While Pakistan are still considering which of their spinners to take into the match, Australia have named an unchanged squad meaning Swepson will get another game to show off his spinning skills on a slow wicket with off-spinner Lyon experimented.