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Cummins and Starc stun Pakistan with blistering display of bowling


“I thought we bowled really well in the first two sessions, we just didn’t quite get the rewards,” Cummins said. “The message was ‘just hang in there’. We saw in our batting innings, things can happen quickly. You get one breakthrough, especially when the ball is reversing, and then luckily we got that breakthrough through Starcy and things sped up.

“It’s all a bit of a blur the last couple of hours. We’ll sit back, bat tomorrow. Like last game, we’ve given ourselves a really good opportunity here. Really in front of the game, so hopefully we bat well and hopefully try and take those last 10 wickets.”

Rewind four hours and Australia’s bowlers looked bereft of answers heading into lunch. By that stage, all of Australia’s bowlers were averaging more than 45 with the ball.

Abdullah Shafique (81) and Azhar Ali (78) were excellent for Pakistan, while Babar Azam’s fine knock of 67 came undone when he was LBW to Starc during the chaotic final overs of the day.

Earlier, Lyon had Shafique out caught behind before a tremendous caught and bowled from Cummins sent Ali back to the pavilion when he looked set to bring up a second century this series.

However, Australia’s patience was severely tested for the umpteenth time on lifeless Pakistan pitches and none more so than leg-spinner Mitch Swepson.

Since the start of Pakistan’s second innings in Karachi, Swepson has bowled more than 400 balls without taking a wicket.

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam celebrates 50 before his side collapsed.

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam celebrates 50 before his side collapsed.Credit:AP

Pakistan’s batters have applied themselves admirably and Australia’s attack is one of the most experienced in world cricket, but the pitches have undoubtedly detracted from the spectacle.

Regardless of how this Test plays out, Australian players won’t look favourably upon the prospect of returning to Pakistan if the same pitches are served up year after year.

In Karachi, Pakistan survived 171.4 overs to secure a famous draw. Australia took five wickets in the final 149.2 overs before stumps were pulled in the second Test.

By lunch, Australia had failed to take a wicket from 67 overs, with Pakistan cruising at 1-159. That meant six wickets from 216.2 overs for an Australian side whose bowling unit has earned its fair share of praise in recent years.

Australia dropped chances in Karachi and declared they couldn’t afford to do it again. But four balls before the lunch break and with Azhar Ali on 62, Steve Smith spilled another catch, having done so twice in the second Test. It was a difficult chance, with Alicutting and Smith getting a fingertip to it as his body weight went the wrong way.

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However, the half chance was too much for Mitch Swepson. After toiling for so long without a reward, the Queenslander erupted with frustration.

The young leg-spinner has had a brutal introduction to Test cricket, but could easily blame teammates for not upholding their end of the bargain.

But an amazing afternoon on Wednesday in Lahore will make Swepson feel a little better about himself as Australia gets ready to swoop with a series victory theirs for the taking.

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