Aus vs Pak: Will Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne seize their final opportunity to reverse their poor form in 2023?

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Steven Smith reflected on his second-innings lbw as he left Optus Stadium while the previous evening Marnus Labuschagne required a trip to the hospital after a vicious blow from a spiteful surface. These moments were insignificant in the face of Australia’s 360-run victory, with Labuschagne reporting no damage to his hand but admitting to being “nervous” for a bit. Nonetheless, for both of Australia’s star players, it was a frustrating year that fell short of their previous prolific heights.

Smith’s 2023 batting average of 42.65 with three centuries and Labuschagne’s average of 35.04 were below their usual standards. Australia’s overall Test batting returns for the year are mid-table, with significant contributions from Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, and the surprise entrant, Mitchell Marsh.

Smith acknowledged that he had not been at his best, citing confidence issues. Despite this, his centuries helped Australia secure victories in crucial matches. Meanwhile, Labuschagne experienced a challenging year in Test cricket. He struggled against tough opponents and faced disappointing performances in pivotal moments.

Amid these struggles, Labuschagne and Smith will remain essential to Australia’s transition phase. At the MCG, Smith has a strong track record while Labuschagne has struggled. Despite challenges, both players are expected to finish the year on a personal high.

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