After five weeks of a historic tour where the cricket has been tough and competitive for the most part, we have a decider to look forward to.
It’s a tour that has perhaps attracted more atten-tion off-field than on it, though the cricket has been of a high standard, and Pakistan can finally look forward to embracing the new normal of hosting home cricket in the country.
Australia, recalcitrant tourists to this part of the world, have come to Paki-stan for a full, all-format tour despite all the security and Covid-19 challenges, and seen the whole thing go off, for now, without a hitch.
The focus, by now, is finally where it belongs, on the cricket, as Pakistan and Australia look to entertain for one last time in the ODI series.
The series is on the line.
Pakistan’s unlikely, re-cord-shattering win in the second game to level the series has kept the series alive, something few ex-pected when Australia set the hosts 349 to win in the second game.
But while there is excitement over the destination of the trophy, suggesting it has bigger implications than that feels a bit of a stretch.
Babar Azam said after the win on Thursday that the result would give Pakistan huge confidence for the final game, and if that were followed by triumph in the decider, that effect will only be amplified.
But, tacked on at the end of a hugely anticipated Test series, these white-ball games have the ambience of warm-downs before the visitors head back home.
Pakistan’s unfavourable history against Australia means any win over any level of Australian opposi-tion is welcome.
More pragmatically, a series win would push Pakistan up the ODI World Cup Super League table, where they had been languishing below the qualification mark.
They are still not out of the woods in that department, but a win on Saturday would take them further away from danger.
With Australia operating with a short-handed squad, one that required additional reinforcements to be flown in, they aren’t expected to view these contests as anything more than depth-testing.