Josh Hazlewood’s late burst puts Australia within touching distance of series whitewash

Australia took charge of the New Year’s Test against Pakistan at the SCG with an exceptional performance from Josh Hazlewood on day three. Hazlewood’s inspired spell, including a triple-wicket maiden, dismantled Pakistan’s middle order, putting Australia on the brink of a series whitewash. Despite Aamir Jamal’s six-wicket haul earlier for Pakistan, Australia, led by Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, built a solid partnership. Pakistan’s second innings faced a tumultuous start, losing early wickets, but Babar Azam and Saim Ayub stabilized with a 57-run partnership. Hazlewood’s late heroics, however, left Pakistan at 7-68 by stumps. The match remains poised, with Australia set to chase in the next innings.

At stumps, Pakistan stands at 7-68, leading by 82 runs, with Mohammad Rizwan (6*) and Aamir Jamal (0*) unbeaten overnight. Aamir Jamal’s superb bowling, securing career-best figures of 6-69, gave Pakistan a chance for their first Test victory in Australia since 1995. Resuming day three at 2-116, Australia faced a barrage of dot balls before Marnus Labuschagne’s quick single pleased the crowd. Despite Pakistan resorting to a short-ball strategy, Steve Smith and Labuschagne formed a resilient 79-run partnership for the third wicket.

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After a brief delay due to debris on the sight screen, Smith and Labuschagne departed before lunch, bringing Pakistan back into contention. The tourists had a turbulent start in their second innings, losing Shafique and Masood in the first eight deliveries. A chaotic session saw Lyon’s breakthrough, removing Ayub for 33, but Azam and Ayub steadied with a 57-run partnership. Momentum shifted when Head dismissed Azam, setting the stage for Hazlewood’s crucial late wickets. The match remains in the balance, with Australia’s Carey acknowledging the challenges of the upcoming day and expressing hope for Warner to secure a win. On Jane McGrath Day, the SCG turned pink, witnessing the highest attendance since the Covid-19 pandemic.

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