Pakistan aims to secure a face-saving victory in the final Test against Australia
After suffering two consecutive defeats at the hands of Australia, Pakistan is under pressure to avoid a whitewash in the third and final Test of the Benaud-Qadir Trophy at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) from January 3-7. The team, led by Shan Masood, aims to end the series on a high note and has made two changes for the final Test.
Despite a spirited display in Melbourne, Australia claimed victory on the fourth day of the match. Shan is currently leading the run-scoring chart for Pakistan, while Aamir Jamal is the second-highest wicket-taker of the series so far. Saim Ayub will make his Test debut, replacing Imam-ul-Haq, and Sajid Khan will replace Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Pakistan will persist with the three changes made ahead of the MCG Test. Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali, and Mohammad Rizwan have also kept their place in the side. In a pre-match press conference, Captain Masood expressed the team’s determination to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance against quality sides.
Pakistan’s decision to persist with the three changes made ahead of the MCG Test shows their commitment to finding the right combination. Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali, and Mohammad Rizwan have proven their worth and have rightfully retained their place in the side. Captain Masood’s statement in the pre-match press conference reflects the team’s eagerness to rectify their errors and elevate their performance against formidable opponents.
In the pre-match press conference, Pakistan captain Masood said: “We have learned from the mistakes we made in the first two matches. Going forth, it is about not repeating them, especially when playing against quality sides. If we keep playing like this, I am sure there will be a lot of Test wins in the future.
“At Melbourne, we played good cricket all four days but there were several chances we could have seized the game. We will work on the lessons learned. We are positive about the direction our team is taking.”
Reflecting on Shaheen, the captain said, “Personally and as a team, we have never had any doubts when it comes to Shaheen. If you look at his records, he has bowled the highest number of overs in a while in world cricket. It is up to us to make sure he is looked after, physically and mentally.”
He further added: “Fitness and workload impact performance. Our all-format players have been playing continuous cricket for a while now—they have played three World Cups in the past three years while also playing the World Test Championship simultaneously. We have been trying to address this to balance match significance and workload.
“Players like Khurram Shahzad, Aamir Jamal and Mir Hamza have done well in tough conditions. This reflects the success of our domestic system, as it has broadened our bench strength. We want to give similar chances to our batters too, so we can widen our player pool in each department.”
Pakistan playing XI for the SCG Test: Shan Masood (c), Saim Ayub, Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Salman Ali Agha, Sajid Khan, Aamir Jamal, Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza