For Australia, a quadruple triple. For Pakistan, a wretched dozen. Steven Smith’s men completed another crushing victory over the crestfallen visitors on a balmy day at the SCG, making it 12 consecutive wins for the Australians in home Tests against Pakistani touring teams – four clean sweeps in a row dating back to 1999.
There never seemed much doubt over the result when the final day began, and even less when Josh Hazlewood struck twice in the first half hour to maintain his outstanding record this summer. From there Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe worked their way through the Pakistan line-up, with Hazlewood returning to claim the final wicket on the stroke of the tea break.
Ahead of the Test team’s next job in India, the use of spin on a wearing wicket gave Smith and the coach Darren Lehmann some idea of where Lyon and O’Keefe sat. Lyon bowled some beguiling spells, notably to Younis Khan, but O’Keefe finished the day with the superior figures – 3 for 53 as opposed to 2 for 100.
The match played out in an agreeable atmosphere, as a decent crowd of 17,583 filed in for the price of a gold coin donation to the Jane McGrath Foundation. They saved some of their biggest cheers for the substitute fielder Mickey Edwards, a seam bowler from the Manly grade club who sported a surfer’s mane of hair in weather that could scarcely have been more beach-friendly.
Hazlewood set the tone in the first over of the day, accepting a return catch from Azhar Ali, and followed up by claiming Babar Azam lbw for the second time in the match. Lyon’s teasing spell to Younis was rewarded when the batsman lost patience and skied an attempt to hit over midwicket. A leading edge was accepted comfortably by Hazlewood at mid-on. Younis finished the Test on 9977 runs.
The nightwatchman Yasir Shah had offered considerable resistance to Australia, but was defeated by an O’Keefe delivery that turned and bounced enough to catch the edge and was taken low down at second slip by the substitute fielder Jackson Bird. Misbah did not look at ease at any stage of his innings, but found a way to survive to lunch in the company of the more proactive Asad Shafiq.
On resumption Shafiq got as far as 30 before Starc found a hint of reverse swing into the right-hander from around the wicket to bowl him off an inside edge. Sarfraz continued in a similarly positive vein opposite Misbah, the pair adding 52 in only 13.3 overs. However, Australia broke through when Misbah aimed an extravagant heave at O’Keefe and was caught attempting to slog a spin bowler for the second time in the match.
Wahab Riaz fell next, apparently mystified as to how the umpire Richard Illingworth’s not-out verdict could have been overturned. Matthew Wade heard the faintest of sounds as O’Keefe spun the ball past the bat, and his appeal was backed up by the merest possible spike on Snicko for the third umpire Ian Gould to rule in the bowler’s favour.
Mohammad Amir’s stay was ended by a wretched run-out, and Smith took the second new ball minutes before the scheduled tea break to allow the excellent Hazlewood to claim the last wicket with extra bounce and another catch to Bird – his four snaffles equalling the world record for a substitute.
In recent years, beating Pakistan down under has been one of the least challenging tasks Australia can contemplate; their next assignment, facing up to India in India, is by far the most difficult.—AFP