Pat Cummins has extended his successful summer by taking his third consecutive five-wicket haul for Australia, aiding in the removal of Pakistan for a total of 313 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
During another significant day for the team’s leader, Cummins once again proved to be Australia’s top performer with his impressive figures of 5-57. This gave the home team an advantage in David Warner’s final Test match. Warner was then required to face a single over before the end of play, managing to hit a four off the first ball from spinner Sajid Khan, followed by a two on the leg-side. He also had a close call as he almost played onto his own wickets.
However, although this examination primarily focuses on Warner, the day was dominated by Cummins. He took crucial wickets, including that of Pakistan’s top player Babar Azam, and also dismissed Mohammad Rizwan just as the wicketkeeper-batsman was gaining momentum to bring his team back into the game.
Rizwan was nearing a century at 88 runs when Cummins took charge of the attack before the tea break. He delivered a well-aimed bouncer that caused Rizwan to top-edge and get caught at fine leg. This ended a rapid 94-run partnership between Rizwan and Agha Salman, who scored 53 runs before being caught while attempting a pull shot against Mitchell Starc. Cummins continued his successful spell after the break, getting Sajid Khan caught at mid wicket for 15 runs and then dismissing Hasan Ali for a score of zero.
Australia had hoped to limit Pakistan to a score of under 250, but their plans were foiled when Aamir Jamal, the No. 9 batsman, scored 82 runs off 97 balls, including four sixes. This impressive performance was part of an 86-run partnership with Mir Hamza (7 not out) for the last wicket, which once again brought up concerns about Australia’s strategy against the lower order. Despite this, Cummins was the standout player.
The captain of Australia has shown a talent for strategically placing himself in the game in recent months, as seen in the fourth inning at the MCG last week. With Wednesday’s performance, he now has a total of 18 wickets at an average of 11.33 for the series, after leading Australia to victory in the World Cup less than two months ago.
Cummins has become the first Australian since Nathan Lyon in 2017 to achieve three consecutive five-wicket hauls, solidifying his dominance in what is being hailed as the “summer of Cummins”. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that Cummins consistently takes down the key wickets.
The quick again got the better of Babar earlier in the day, trapping Pakistan’s best batsman lbw for 26 with a ball that tailed back in at him after a number of flourishing cover drives. He then backed it up with the wicket of Saud Shakeel, capping a horror morning for Pakistan that left them 4-47.
When the tourists took a quick break, Shaheen Afridi was substituted. With the three-game series already lost, they had zero runs from both their starting players in the first two overs at the SCG. Abdullah Shafique’s removal on the second ball was a reflection of his poor performance during the tour, as he swung at a ball far outside the off-stump from Starc (2-75). This was similar to his dismissal in the second innings at the MCG and adds to his three missed catches in the slip position throughout the series.
Saim Ayub, being only 21 years old and having played only 14 first-class games, displayed his inexperience. He attempted to play a delivery from Josh Hazlewood, who had angled it across the left-hander, but ended up edging it to a diving Alex Carey.
Although Pakistan’s captain Shan Masood put up a fight with 35 runs, he was caught in the slips by Mitch Marsh after lunch, following a previous escape from a no-ball. This left Rizwan to take charge and lead a counterattack, hitting one six over fine leg with a scoop-pull off Hazlewood and another with a slog-sweep off Nathan Lyon, making two bold shots of the day.