After two batting-dominated draws, rival skippers Babar Azam and Pat Cummins are both targeting a series-winning victory when the third and final Pakistan-Australia Test starts in Lahore Monday. The series — Australia’s first in Pakistan for 24 years — opened with a high scoring stalemate on a featherbed pitch in Rawalpindi before the hosts salvaged a fighting draw in Karachi on the back of an epic 196 from Azam. Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium is Azam’s home ground and will be staging a Test for the first time since a fatal terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 caused international cricket to be suspended in Pakistan.
“I can’t explain the feelings,” said Azam on Sunday.
“You have a different feeling when you play on your home ground and before your home crowd.
“I see a result here and if we win, against a major team, it will mean a lot and a proud moment for us.”
Both the pitches in Rawalpindi and Karachi did not give enough assistance to the spinners, but Azam hopes Lahore pitch will be more receptive.
“I feel it will definitely give turn. It has small cracks from where spinners get help and patches are formed,” said Azam, who may opt to include uncapped leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood to support slow-bowling pair Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan.
Cummins felt the pitch might turn out to be similar to the flat tracks encountered in the first two Tests.
“It seems hard, but I can’t see it being too much different from the other ones,” said Cummins who announced Australia will field an unchanged side from the second Test.
“We feel like we’ve got all bases covered if needed, whether it’s reverse swing or swing later in the game.
“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 eleven.”
Cummins urged Australia, who dropped four crucial catches in the second innings in Karachi, to take their chances.
“Wickets are at a premium in this series so you can’t afford to drop too many chances,” he said. “So that’s going to be the challenge this week.”
Steve Smith dropped Pakistan opener Abdullah Shafique on 20, who went on to score 96 while Azam was dropped twice off successive deliveries on 161.
Late on the fifth day Usman Khawaja also let off Mohammad Rizwan on 91 who finished with 104 not out.
Australia have not won a Test series on Asian soil since their 1-0 win in Sri Lanka in 2011.
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