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LAHORE: Pakistan openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique produced third half-century stand of the three-match series to set up an intriguing and mouth-watering fifth and final day of the decisive cricket Test against Australia for the Benaud-Qadir Trophy.

After Pat Cummins made a sporting declaration shortly after tea on the penultimate day to set Pakistan 351 runs target, the left-and-right hand combination of Imam and Abdullah had taken the home team to 73 at the draw of stumps without being separated.

When play will resume on Friday morning with Imam on 42 and Abdullah on 27, Pakistan will require another 278 runs to win their first series against Australia on home soil since 1994.

In contrast, Pat Cummins will aim to match the accomplishments of Richie Benaud and Mark Taylor. Benaud had inspired Australia to seven wickets victory over Pakistan in Lahore to wrap the two-Test series 2-0, while in 1998, Mark Taylor’s side defeated Aamir Sohail’s team by 1-0.

In the scenario of a drawn Lahore Test match, it will be the first time in 26 series between the two countries that a three-Test series will end at 0-0.

Earlier, Australia resumed their second innings at the overnight score of 11 for no loss and declared their second innings at 227 for three.

Usman Khawaja, who began this morning at seven, returned undefeated on 104 in what was his second century of the series and 12th of his 49-Test career. Khawaja’s previous scores in the series were 97, 160, 44 not out and 91. This will be the second most number of runs scored in a day in the ongoing Test to date. On day one, 232 runs were scored, 249 runs were scored on the day two, 189 runs were scored on day three and 289 runs were scored on day four.

On the other side of the coin, Pakistan will have the comfort and confidence that there are still no demons in the pitch, evident from the fact that five wickets fell on day one, six wickets fell on day two, nine wickets fell on day three and just three wickets fell on day four.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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