Even though batting-friendly conditions are likely, there is intrigue over the pitch as Lahore hasn’t hosted a Test since 2009
Toss Australia chose to bat vs Pakistan
Australia won a crucial toss and elected to bat in the series-deciding third Test against Pakistan on a Lahore pitch that is expected to continue the hard toil for bowlers.
The historic series, the first between the teams in Pakistan since 1998, remains deadlocked after two draws in batting-friendly conditions in Rawalpindi and Karachi. After a dreary stalemate in the series opener on a docile pitch, Australia’s pursuit of victory in the second Test was thwarted by a rousing Pakistan rearguard over the final two days on a surface that failed to significantly deteriorate.
Despite that bitter disappointment, as revealed by captain Pat Cummins on Sunday, Australia named an unchanged XI, retaining legspinner Mitchell Swepson after he finished with the figures of 2 for 188 from 62.4 overs on his debut.
The 28-year-old, who became the first specialist legspinner capped by an Australian Test team since Bryce McGain in 2009, impressed at times with venomous spin but was wicketless in Pakistan’s marathon second innings.
With the Lahore pitch looking dry, and with hot and humid weather forecast throughout the match, Swepson has again been preferred over quick Josh Hazlewood, who went wicketless in the first Test.
After remarkably staving off defeat in Karachi, where they batted for 171.4 overs in their fourth innings, a buoyed Pakistan enter with the momentum although they struggled to make inroads with the ball, particularly in the second Test where Australia declared both their innings.
Pakistan shook up their attack by recalling quick Naseem Shah, who was fiery in the first Test, at the expense of allrounder Faheem Ashraf. They resisted including uncapped legspinner Zahid Mahmood, preferring to stick with frontline spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan who have both occasionally looked threatening but for not nearly long enough.
Even though batting-friendly conditions are likely, there is intrigue over the surface as Lahore hasn’t hosted a Test since 2009. With Australia having not played a Test in Lahore since 1994, excitement is building for eager locals as the Benaud-Qadir Trophy remains up for grabs.
Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Mitchell Swepson, 11 Nathan Lyon
Pakistan 1 Abdullah Shafique, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Nauman Ali, 8 Sajid Khan, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Naseem Shah
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth