Confident Pakistan begin battle for series win today

Asher Butt
Monday, Mar 21, 2022

LAHORE: The winners-take-all Test between Pakistan and Australia begins here at the Gaddafi Stadium from Monday (today).The first two Tests, held at Rawalpindi and Karachi, ended in draw with the hosts having an edge over the tourists after the Babar Azam-led Pakistan pulled off a draw they seemed to have been crushed by the visitors on the first three days.

This will be the first five-day game Gaddafi Stadium will be hosting since the 2009 terrorists attack on the Sri Lankan team that halted international cricket in Pakistan. Pakistan has been holding international teams for the last couple of years and has also hosted foreign players for the Pakistan Super League, but Australia’s return after more than two decades (24 years to be precise) is the first full-fledged tour by a top team.

Babar who just the other day batted a marathon innings to save the second Test at Karachi that was slipping away will be leading his charges for the first time at his home venue in Test cricket.”It’s a different feeling to play in front of the home crowd, at my home ground. I can’t explain this feeling,” Babar told reporters on Sunday.He added that it will be a proud moment for his team if they can win the series.

The saviour role Babar and Mohammad Rizwan played in the Karachi Test has given them confidence and they will now go for the kill. “We took a lot of confidence from the way the team played the last Test,” Babar said.”Looks like the same pitch but I feel it will give turn,” said Babar about the Gaddafi stadium pitch. “It has small cracks from where spinners can get help and patches are formed. But you can’t tell 100% because conditions are different. But whatever it is our spinners are ready for it and will fight,” he said.

Australian captain Pat Cummins said that they don’t expect the Gaddafi Stadium pitch to be much different from the first two Tests.”There’s not a lot of grass on it,” Cummins said. “I think it’s had quite a lot of traffic throughout the PSL (Pakistan Super League) on it as well.”It seems hard, but I can’t see it being too much different from the other ones,” he added.

He said he is happy with the performance of his boys so far. “I’ve been really happy with how everyone has gone about their own work, the tactics, think it’s just a matter of taking those chances. Wickets are at a premium in this series so you can’t afford to drop too many chances,” he said.

Australia have announced they would go unchanged. Pakistan are also unlikely to make any change to their XI that played the Karachi Test.