David Warner was playing reverse sweep. He was unleashing those vicious cover drives over the opposition bowlers. It felt like the explosive batsman was enjoying his last outing thoroughly with those manoeuvres straight out of T-20 manual. Australia completed a whitewash of the Pakistanis in an emotional SCG Test. The hosts won the final match by 7 wickets, giving Warner the perfect send off to one of their all time greats.
Pakistan made a big call by keeping Shaheen Shah Afridi out of their squad for the final test. The left arm pacer has been struggling to hit the right spots during the previous two tests and the team management opted for another spinner in place of Afridi. Right arm off spinner Sajid Khan came into the team to replace Afridi. It was a memorable day for Saim Ayub who made his test debut at the top of the order. Imam-Ul-Haque gave way to one of the brightest talents from Pakistan. Agha Salman keeps his place as another spin operator.
Australia fielded an unchanged XI for the third time in this series. That meant Cameron Green would have to wait patiently for his chance. This is the last time David Warner will start the innings for Australia in white ball cricket. The fabulous quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Patrick Cummins and Nathan Lyon play their 28th day together – a record that is being rewritten with every match. It was the 112th and last test of David Warner’s illustrious test career. The quest for finding his successor is still on.
- David Warner 2. Usman Khawaja 3. Marnus Labuschagne 4. Steve Smith 5. Travis Head 6. Mitchell Marsh 7. Alex Carey (WK) 8. Patrick Cummins (Cap.) 9. Mitchell Starc 10. Nathan Lyon 11. Josh Hazlewood
- Abdullah Shafique 2. Saim Ayub 3. Shan Masood (Cap.) 4. Babar Azam 5 Saud Shakeel 6. Muhammad Rizwan (WK) 7. Agha Salman 8. Sajid Khan 9. Aamer Jamal 10. Hasan Ali 11. Mir Hamza
Pakistan captain Shan Masood won the coin toss and elected to bat first at SCG. This ground has been known for favouring the spin bowlers more than any other Australian ground. Teams that chose to bat first have won 47 times at the SCG while the teams that fielded first won on 41 occasions. Pakistan added an extra spinner to their side to take full advantage of the conditions. The second day pitch looked better compared with the first day. The ball was coming to the bat nicely with some occasional anomalies. There was a hint of turn for Salman Ali Agha who bowled brilliantly by sticking to a tight line. The bounce seemed to be a lot tamer than the previous day.
Pakistan hasn’t been able to win a Test match in the land down under since 1995-1996. If they lose this test match, the record would read 17-0. They had a wonderful chance to scrape this deplorable record at the previous test at MCG, but the failure to seize the opportunities cost them another test match. Out of the last five tests at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, four of them ended in a draw with Australia winning the other one. The last time Australia was defeated in a SCG was back in 2011. They lost that match by a huge margin of an innings and 83 runs,failing to retain the Ashes in the process.
|The final game of the series was played at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground in New South Wales in Australia.
|The game started on 3rd January, 2023, at 10:30 p.m. local time.
Captaincy & Tactics
Patrick Cummins trusted his off spinner and bowled him continuously in the second innings. The Australian captain is becoming an inspired leader with match changing decisions. The dismissal of Muhammad Rizwan was an example of a perfect setup in test cricket. Lyon ended the innings with three scalps, repaying the faith shown by his captain.
Shan Masood took the surprising decision of not bringing Aamer Jamal into the attack in the second innings. The best bowler of the tour was kept out of bowling duty so long that the Australians were out of sight by the time Jamal came to bowl. Pakistan tried to stifle the Aussie batsmen by attacking them with spin from both ends. Sajid Khan bowled fantastically well but was unfortunate not to take more wickets. Warner and Labuschagne attacked the Pakistani bowlers, not allowing them to get back into the game.
David Warner, in a stunning final innings of his illustrious 112-Test career, blazed through the field with a whirlwind knock of 57 runs off 75 balls before departing shortly after lunch on day four. With Australia needing just 11 runs for victory, Warner was adjudged lbw to offspinner Sajid Khan upon review. The flamboyant opener made his way back to the pavilion as the 24 thousand supporters applauded for him.
Marnus Labuschagne remained unbeaten on 62 runs from 73 deliveries. Australia romped to the target of 130 on a dry pitch. It was a good performance on a surface that had previously posed challenges with uneven bounce and sharp turn.
Batting with great determination and intent, Australia scored at a brisk rate of over five runs per over, capitalizing on the relatively more favorable batting conditions compared to the previous day, which saw 15 wickets fall. Warner and Labuschagne orchestrated a magnificent 119-run partnership, inflicting substantial damage on the Pakistani bowlers. To the great astonishment of the Pakistan fans. Aamer Jamal was not deployed until after the lunch break.
All eyes were fixated on Warner as it was his final innings in a Test career that spanned 112 matches. He stepped into the field to a standing ovation. Warner shared an emotional embrace with his opening partner and close friend Usman Khawaja. He then walked through a guard of honor formed by the Pakistani players.
Pakistan’s Sajid Khan opened the bowling and immediately made an impact with a sharp delivery that spun past Khawaja’s bat. This event created a glimmer of hope for Pakistan. Sajid went on to dismiss Khawaja lbw for a duck in the same over, a decision confirmed upon review. Khawaja suffered a rare failure after shining with the bat last year.
The big question was whether Warner would adopt a cautious approach or adhere to his trademark aggressive style. Warner’s intent was clear from the start. He confidently advanced down the pitch to left-arm quick Mir Hamza and opened his account with a stylish shot through cover. He brought back his glory days by running at a high speed between the wickets. The creative shots was a tribute to the modern day great’s beginning in the T-20 format. Warner will continue to play in the shortest form of the international game as 2023 T20 World Cup is looming on the horizon.
On the 12th delivery he faced, Warner unleashed his first boundary, mercilessly punishing a wide delivery from Hamza through cover. He then started to deploy reverse sweep against the dangerous Sajid Khan. Warner’s approach, however, carried its fair share of risk on the tricky surface. He received a stroke of luck when he inside-edged a delivery from seamer Hasan Ali perilously close to his stumps. There was a moment of anxiety when an attempted shot off Sajid almost resulted in a catch at mid-on. Warner was lucky for the final time, the ball landed safely wide of the chasing Jamal.
Warner reached his half-century in just 56 deliveries, leaving Australia with a mere 39 runs requited to clinch victory after lunch. The remaining suspense in the match centered around whether Warner would have the honor of hitting the winning runs. He survived a tight lbw appeal on 53, initiated by Sajid, which Pakistan unsuccessfully reviewed. Labuschagne received a lifeline as captain Shan Masood dropped a catch at short midwicket. That meant Pakistan’s fielding troubles throughout the series would go on for a bit longer.
Labuschagne, who had experienced a relatively modest average of 35 in Test cricket last year, exhibited sublime form as he secured his second half-century of the match. Ultimately, Labuschagne struck the winning run after Warner’s departure. The right hander sealed Australia’s series whitewash. None of the three Tests extended to a fifth day. Sajd Khan was the best bowler for Pakistan in the second innings with two wickets to his name.
The fielding has been the achilles heel for Pakistan throughout this tour. The could have secured a historic victory on any of the first two tests had the fielding performances been better. The tradition of dropping catches continued to the final day of cricket. The brilliant Aamer Jamal shelled a difficult chance at mid on off Sajid Khan’s bowling. David Warner tried to go over the top but spliced it towards mid on. Jamal was not quick enough with his feet and spilled the ball after a desperate attempt. Sajid’s misfortune would not end there. Marnus Labuschagne was given a reprieve by none other than the captain standing at silly mid on. The ball came quickly for Masood he could not gather his composure in time
The Australians discharged their fielding duties with usual pomp. Aamer Jamal was caught magnificently on the boundary line by Travis Head. David Warner’s low grab at leg slip to dismiss Muhammad Rizwan was the last one out of 91 catches in a stellar career.
David Warner posted the 37th and final half century of his test career to make the chase a cakewalk for the host team. Warner was in his typical innovative mood, manoeuvring the ball to all sides of the ground. He southpaw opener scored 57 off 75 balls. But the top scorer for the Australians in the second innings was Marnus Labuschagne however, he scored 62 from 73 deliveries with the help of 9 boundaries. Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith both faced one ball each. Khawaja was dismissed on the first ball of the innings. Smith hit the only delivery for a boundary. Earlier in the day, Muhammad Rizwan posted 28 and Aamer Jamal managed 18 to get the score past 100 for the visitors.
Sajid Khan was the pick of the bowlers for the Pakistanis. The 30 year old finger spinner claimed both wickets. He could have claimed three but was denied by a missed opportunity by Shan Masood and a review overturn by Marnus Labuschagne. Nathan Lyon was kept quiet by Pakistan in the first innings. Nevertheless, the best off spinner in Australian history showed his class by picking up three scalps in the second innings. Hazlewood remained stuck at 249 test wickets as he failed to add to his tally of four wickets from the third day.
The momentum completely swung towards the Australians on the fourth ball of the 40th over of the third inning. Muhammad Rizwan was batting well accompanied by Aamer Jamal at the other end. They were patiently ticking away the runs as the lead grew. Rizwan was batting at the score of 28. The lead was 123 runs. A further fifty runs from there could have changed the course of the game on a tricky surface. Nathan Lyon bowled one at the pad of Rizwan. The wicketkeeper batsman tried to glance it away towards the fine leg boundary. But the trap was set earlier, and David Warner took a low catch to complete dismissal. The Australians were visibly pumped after this ball. Pakistan could only add six more runs to the lead, setting up an easy target for the Australians to chase down.
Australia comprehensively beat Pakistan to sweep the series 3-0. The record for the last 17 test matches between these two teams is a horrendous read for the Pakistanis at 17-0.
Player of the Match
Aamer Jamal was adjudged the best player of the match for his all-round prowess. The 27 year old has been a revelation on this tour. He scored 82 in the first innings. Then he came back to pick up six wickets for his team with the ball.
Player of the Series
The Australian skipper, Patrick Cummins picked up three fifers in succession to give Australia an edge on different occasions throughout the series. The right arm pacer took 19 wickets altogether to win the player of the series award.
|Pakistan First Innings: 313/10 (77.1 overs)
|Australia 1st Innings: 116/2 (47 overs)
|Pakistan Second Innings: 115/10 (43.1 overs)
|Australia Second Innings: 130/2 (25.5 overs)
|Muhammad Rizwan 88 (103)
|Usman Khawaja 47 (143)
|Saim Ayub 33 (53)
|Marnus Labuschagne 62 (73)
|Aamer Jamal 82 (97)
|David Warner 34 (68)
|Muhammad Rizwan 28 (57)
|David Warner 57 (75)
|Pat Cummins 5/61
|Agha Salma 1/25
|Josh Hazlewood 4/15
|Sajid Khan 2/49
|Mitchell Starc 2/75
|Aamer Jamal 1/29
|Nathan Lyon 3/36
|Mir Hamza 0/9
It was a fairytale farewell for the Australian opener David Warner who ended his 12 year long test career with another win. An idiosyncratic fifty that exuded confidence and power led the Australian side towards an easy victory. Pakistan captain Shan Masood should feel proud about the team’s performances. Aamer Jamal is one of the few visiting players who can hold his head high for consistency throughout the series. Australia would await the West Indies for the next series at home soil. Pakistan will continue their tour in Oceania with a T20 series against New Zealand coming up next.