Pakistan openers set up thrilling final day in final Test against Australia | Cricket


The Pakistan openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique made a solid start on Thursday to set up a potentially thrilling final day in the deciding third Test in Lahore, keeping the hosts in the hunt for a series win against Australia.

The Australia captain Pat Cummins made a sporting declaration in the final session of the fourth day at the Gaddafi Stadium, ending his side’s second innings on 227 for 3 and setting Pakistan a target of 351.

On a wicket offering turn for the spinners and with some deliveries keeping low, Imam and Shafique took Pakistan to 73 without loss at stumps, with the hosts needing 278 more for victory.

Imam was unbeaten on 42 with Shafique 27 not out. Steve Smith, who has had a tough time in the series with his catching, dropped an edge from Shafique off the part-time leg-spin of Marnus Labuschagne in the final over of the day. The first two tests – the first between the sides in Pakistan since 1998 – were drawn.

The Australia opener Usman Khawaja earlier continued his run spree against Pakistan, remaining unbeaten on 104 having completed his second hundred of the series. The 35-year-old left-hander scampered two in the final over before tea to complete his 12th Test hundred.

Australia’s Usman Khawaja celebrates reaching his 100 on day four.
Australia’s Usman Khawaja celebrates reaching his 100 on day four. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

The Pakistan-born Khawaja, who top-scored for Australia in the first innings with 91, also scored 97 in the opening Test at Rawalpindi and 160 and 44 not out in the second at Karachi.

He added 96 for the opening stand with David Warner, who hit six fours and a six in his knock before being dismissed shortly before lunch for 51, cleaned up by the fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.

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Khawaja, who returned to the Test side after two years in January during the home Ashes series against England, was bowled on 31 by the pacer Naseem Shah but was reprieved when the television umpire ruled the bowler had overstepped the crease.

He also added 65 for the second wicket with the No 3 Marnus Labuschagne, who made 36. Former captain Steve Smith was out for 17 after becoming the fastest to reach 8,000 runs in tests during his knock.



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