AUS vs PAK, 2nd Test Review – Pat Cummins led Australia end their magnificent 2023 on a high

After being outclassed in the first Test in Perth, Pakistan managed to give Australia a run for their money in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, which concluded on Friday, December 29. However, the World Test Champions persevered to eke out a 79-run win on Day 4.

Australia began the day at 187/6, having a second-innings lead of 241 runs. Alex Carey scored a half-century before the hosts were bundled out for 262. Pakistan needed 317 runs to win their first Test on Australian soil in 28 years and keep the Test series alive.

The tourists would have fancied their chances as the pitch did not show any significant signs of deterioration, at least in the early goings of Day 4. However, they did not get off to an ideal start as Mitchell Starc dismissed Abdullah Shafique in the fifth over. Imam-ul-Haq tried to wear out the Aussie bowlers but his gritty innings was ended by Aussie skipper Pat Cummins.

Shan Masood and Babar Azam had the responsibility to lead Pakistan’s fightback. They took the attack to the Australian bowlers and put on an enterprising partnership of 61 runs off 72 balls. The southpaw departed after scoring a gutsy 60 off 71 balls as he was dismissed by his opposite number. Saud Shakeel and Babar tried to take their team closer to their target. However, the former Pakistan captain left a gap between bat and pad and a nip-backer from Josh Hazlewood castled him for 41. Shakeel also perished soon after as the visitors were tottering at 162/5.

Mohammad Rizwan and Salman Ali Agha put on a fine partnership of 57 runs to give Pakistan hopes of a memorable triumph. However, the wicketkeeper-batter was controversially dismissed, caught behind by Carey, off the bowling of Cummins.

When Rizwan departed, Pakistan still needed 98 runs with just four wickets in the bank. The onus was on Salman to take his team across the line. He lost wickets from the other end but managed to score a valiant half-century. The Aussies dismissed the away side for 237 to win the match by 79 runs and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Cummins bagged a five-for, while Starc finished with four wickets. With this defeat, Pakistan’s hopes of winning their first-ever Test series on Australian soil ended.