SYDNEY – The third Test between Australia and Pakistan stands on a knife-edge after a curtailed second day, marked by the retirement innings of opener David Warner, who rode his luck before being dismissed for 34. Australia faced slow progress against Pakistan’s disciplined bowling attack, with only 46 overs bowled due to adverse weather conditions.
Marnus Labuschagne remained unbeaten on 23, while Steven Smith held his ground at 6 not out as the players anticipate better playing conditions on day three.
Despite the Sydney Cricket Ground’s (SCG) light towers being illuminated, play came to a halt after drinks in the second session when Pakistan declined to bowl their spinners. Persistent rain in the afternoon prevented the resumption of play, yet the forecast holds promise for clearer skies in the remaining duration of the match.
Opener Usman Khawaja displayed patience in his innings, scoring 47 off 143 balls before falling to the relentless Aamer Jamal, the lone wicket in the second session. Australia struggled to accelerate, maintaining a run rate of just 2.46, shackled by an accurate Pakistan attack.
No play is possible in the final session due to rain 🌧️
Aamir Jamal and Salman Ali Agha among the wickets as Australia trail by 197 runs 🏏#AUSvPAK pic.twitter.com/gMpAgEMubs
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) January 4, 2024
All eyes were initially on David Warner, playing in his 112th and final Test. Surviving a tense final over on day one, Warner started the second day with a standing ovation and a hug with his close friend Khawaja. Despite a dropped catch on 20, Warner’s innings ended at 34 when he edged a sharp delivery from offspinner Agha Salman, resulting in a fine catch by Babar Azam at slip.
The match’s equilibrium was maintained throughout the attritional session, with gloomy conditions making batting challenging, especially with variable bounce noted from Salman.
The retirement of Warner marks a significant moment in the match, adding an emotional layer to the proceedings. The strategic absence of Pakistan’s spearhead, Shaheen Shah Afridi, rested controversially for the T20I tour of New Zealand, adds an extra dimension to the unfolding battle.
As the contest hangs in the balance, Labuschagne and Smith will be crucial for Australia, aiming to build a solid foundation on the potentially clearer day three. The weather conditions and the absence of key players promise a gripping continuation of the Sydney Test.