Pakistan 313 & 115 (Ayub 33, Hazlewood 4-16, Lyon 3-36) lead Australia 299 by 129 runs
Australia thwarted Mohammad Rizwan and Aamer Jamal’s rearguard early on day four of the third Test as Pakistan lead by just 129 runs with the stage set for retiring opener David Warner to enjoy a fairytale farewell at the SCG.
Pakistan resumed their second innings at 68 for 7, with a lead of only 82 runs, after crumbling during a manic final session on day three. Rizwan and Jamal added 42 runs for the eighth wicket, but Pakistan were bowled out for just 115.
The surface is playing tricks with rough patches causing variable bounce and sharp spin, but has appeared easier for batting compared to on day three where 15 wickets fell.
Pakistan’s meek batting has them poised for a 17th straight defeat in Australia.
Pakistan’s hopes of setting Australia a challenging total rested on Rizwan and Jamal, who scored 88 and 82 respectively in the first innings.
Quick Josh Hazlewood opened the bowling having set the SCG alight in the penultimate over of day three with the wickets of Saud Shakeel, nightwatchman Sajid Khan and Salman Agha.
After a cautious start, Jamal scored the first boundary of the day when he hammered Hazlewood through backward point.
Rizwan lived dangerously as he looked to attack offspinner Nathan Lyon, but he had better success sweeping part-time spinner Travis Head.
Underlining his blossoming confidence amid a remarkable debut Test series, Jamal unfurled a reverse sweep off Lyon to the boundary as Pakistan’s lead passed 100 runs.
Coming off three straight five-wicket hauls, captain Pat Cummins only brought himself on 45 minutes into the day’s play but he could not break the partnership.
Just as Pakistan’s hopes increased, as has happened often during this series, they were rocked by a wicket almost out of nowhere when Rizwan on 28 inside edged Lyon to Warner at leg slip.
Jamal decided to go on the attack only to hole out in the next over to Cummins as Lyon finished off the innings by bowling Hasan Ali.
For inspiration, Pakistan might want to recall South Africa’s famous five-run victory against Australia exactly 30 years ago when they defended 116 runs at the SCG.
But Australia’s bid for a series sweep remains firmly on track and all eyes will be on Warner in his final innings of his illustrious Test career.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth.