Pakistan ‘playing to win’ 3rd Test while Aus go unchanged

Australia Test skipper Pat Cummins says since the impact of precautionary prohibition on use of saliva for shining the ball was not as huge as anticipated, a permanent ban on its usage will not be a “big deal” for seam bowlers.

Saliva application was barred by the ICC in view of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the custodian of cricket laws, recently imposed a complete ban on the use of saliva while announcing its amended 2022 code, which will come into effect in October this year.

The MCC reasoned that applying saliva had no impact on the ball’s movement, according to its research.

“I don’t think so (permanent saliva ban will hamper the performance of the swing bowlers),” Cummins, himself a pacer, told reporters ahead of Australia’s third Test against Pakistan.

“I don’t think it has made a huge effect, as big as we might have thought it would. We can still use sweat, so it’s not too big a deal,” he added.

The MCC said that using saliva to shine the ball would be treated as an unfair practice.

The 3rd Test, starting in Lahore on Monday, will also be a first for Pakistan captain Babar Azam in his home city.

“It’s a different feeling to play in front of a home crowd, at my home ground. I can’t explain this feeling,” Babar told reporters on Sunday, adding that it will be a proud moment for the country and his team if they can win the series.

While Australia named an unchanged side from the one that failed to clinch a win in Karachi, Pakistan will take a call after taking a final look at the wicket.

Babar’s epic 196 and Mohammad Rizwan’s gallant century helped the hosts snatch draw from the jaws of defeat in the second Test in Karachi after the opening match also ended in a stalemate in Rawalpindi.

“We took a lot of confidence from the way the team played the last Test,” Babar said.

“We will take that confidence into the final Test and we will be playing to win, that will be our mindset.”

With batters dominating the series so far, the Pakistan Cricket Board hired Toby Lumsden, the former curator of the International Cricket Council academy, to oversee the preparations of the pitch for Lahore.

Both Babar and his Australian counterpart Cummins said they did not expect the Gaddafi Stadium pitch to be much different from the first two tests.

“There’s not a lot of grass on it,” Cummins said.

“I think it’s had quite a lot of traffic throughout the PSL (Pakistan Super League) on it as well.

“It seems hard, but I can’t see it being too much different from the other ones.”

Azam, who played a sensational 196-run knock against Australia in the second Test earlier this week, has often been compared to India batting veteran Virat Kohli, who has already established himself as one of the greats of the game.

Asked to compare the two, Cummins said, “They are both really complete batters, no matter what format you play, they present their challenges.”

“They are both really high quality (players), both have scored centuries against Australia over the years.”

Talking about the similarities of the current top batters of the world including Kohli, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, England Test captain Joe Root and Azam, Cummins said all of them are not easily flustered.

“All know their game incredibly well. They are never flustered, happy to bat long periods of time. If there is an opportunity, they get off the mark pretty quickly, start accumulating the runs really quickly.

“Unless you are right on the money from the first ball you feel like they are already into their innings,” he added.

Hazlewood to miss out again as Australia announce unchanged playing XI for final Test

Australia have decided to field an unchanged playing XI for the third and final Test against Pakistan, starting from Monday here at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Star pacer Josh Hazlewood will miss out for a second time in a row as Mitchell Swepson replaced him in the second Test in Karachi. Skipper Pat Cummins stated that he is content with how his side performed in Karachi Test that ended in a draw.

“We were really happy with how all 11 players went the last Test,” said Cummins.

“Everyone has pulled up really well. We gave them an extra couple of days to make sure everyone has come up good. But there’s no injury worries, everyone is freshened up, so we’re confident in the XI,” he added.

“Only having two quick bowlers, I think reverse swing is going to be a big factor and the way Starcy played last game was fantastic. It’s always tough leaving out someone like Joshy, even Scotty Boland. But the class and the difference Starcy brings as a left-armer, a bit more air speed, we think that’s the best chance to take 20 wickets,” said Cummins.

The three-match series is locked at 0-0 as the first two games in Rawalpindi and Karachi ended in draws. Pakistan and Australia will meet for the final Test in Lahore on March 21.

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon.


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