So Australia win the series, they’re 2-0 up and can ready themselves for the David Warner Farewell Jubilee in Sydney in the new year. We’ll be there, freshly armed with resolutions or hangovers or both. The crowds are still milling, and most of the Australian players are out there somewhere, taking a few photos with people and saying hello. It’s a nice scene.
Time for us to pack it in from the MCG. Another Boxing Day Test done. See you in 2024.
Here is the wires report.
“I dare say the Twitterverse will fill with confected rage or malicious nonsense, so this is not that,” writes Gervase Green. “But I must admit I could do without the Australian team all so visibly high-fiving and back patting when the very first replay of the Rizwan dismissal was shown on the big screen. Given it took Richard Illingworth another 20-odd reviews to come to what still seems a tenuous verdict, the display seemed designed to influence the outcome. Perhaps inevitable – and impossible to legislate against, I accept – but I still would rather they did not do that.”
I don’t see how it could influence the outcome. The third umpire is looking at the review screens, not at the players on the field. In any case, players try to influence the on-field umpire every time they appeal.
Guy Hornsby writing in from not long ago, moments before the final implosion.
“This is another glorious captain’s spell from Pat. Rizwan and Salman looked busy and you thought they could take it to 80-odd to get by the close, but Cummins brought himself on after a great spell from Hazlewood and did what he does. Rizwan will feel hard done by but on balance that looked like the wristband. And Jamal never looked comfortable with the short ball and that odd hingeing duck. And now it’s right back with Australia. Salman or bust, you feel. What a great pitch and a fantastic Test match.”
Nice scenes here at the MCG, they’ve let the crowd out onto the grass to meander around, look at the wicket square, kick a footy and so on. Late-day sunlight streaming across the ground. It’s a good scene.
Pat Cummins wins the Johnny Mullagh / Unaarrimin Medal for player of the match, which makes a fair bit of sense. Every time Pakistan gained some sort of hold while batting, he was the one to knock their fingers off the ledge.
The extra half hour does the trick. The umpires will get a day off tomorrow. Pakistan collapse so soon after they had hope of pulling off something remarkable. But Australia’s fast bowling is too good, and the lower order folded. From 219-5 to 237 all out, they’ve lost 5 for 18 if you’re not confident on the arithmetic. A real shame that a competitive finish didn’t pan out. A couple of hours tomorrow would have been tense and memorable.
All over! Gone first ball. Another short one, another glove up in front of the face, this time taking a skewed edge, and this time it’s Carey with a mad dash to make, from behind the stumps towards a short fine leg, and he hangs on diving forward.
There he goes. Had to keep taking them on, really. Short ball from Starc, swing across the line towards leg, but the top edge flies down to deep third. Mitch Marsh has ground to make up, and lands about as elegantly as the Spruce Moose when he ploughs into the turf. But he holds onto the ball.
67th over: Pakistan 237-8 (Salman 50, Hasan 0) It’s been a really good innings from Salman, though he probably shouldn’t have taken a single from Cummins third ball of the over. That left Shaheen with too much to face. But it does complete a fifty for the man who is really a proper bat though he’s in this team as a spinning all-rounder.
Same method, same result. Back of a length, Shaheen tries to turn the ball to midwicket, leading edge that pops straight up, short leg trots in to take it.
Five in the innings for Cummins, and ten wickets in the match.
66th over: Pakistan 236-7 (Salman 49, Shaheen 0) Salman dials the intensity way back down, defending against Lyon before taking a run with two balls to go. Shaheen dutifully defends.
65th over: Pakistan 235-7 (Salman 48, Shaheen 0) Cummins to bowl, and there’s another boundary for Salman, top edging the pull over fine leg. Goes for a big square drive next ball, gets 10 percent of it, inside edge past his leg stump. He does a big 360 spin to find the ball and then starts running, hoping for two but it’s never there. Shaheen has to survive three balls. Leaves the first. Edges the second into the ground. Bunts the third to midwicket and survives.
82 to win.
64th over: Pakistan 230-7 (Salman 43, Shaheen 0) That’s really it, Salman Agha can’t do this job with only this dicey Pakistan lower order for company. Shaheen Shah Afridi, who loves a slog, Hasan Ali similarly, and Mir Hamza who is deemed to be worse than either of the other two.
Wonder if we’ll take the extra half hour? The umpires come together for a chat, in fact, at 17:58 local time, so I think we will. They speak to Cummins after that. And we will take extra time.
And Salman says, why not try to win it by then? Lyon bowling. Slashes a couple of runs past slip, charges to punt one over midwicket for four, goes again for two through deep square leg, then backs away to carve three through cover and keep the strike! Strike-farming perfection! 11 off the over and he’ll face the next.
Pakistan need 87 to win.
63rd over: Pakistan 219-7 (Salman 32) It’s always Cummins. Survival mode from Aamer Jamal for the first four balls. Three slips, gully, short leg. Fifth ball of the over he gets the confidence to drive, but only to mid off. Sixth ball, nasty short one, rears at him and he defends himself as best he can. Gloves it way up in the air and Cummins settles under it, halfway down the pitch.
62nd over: Pakistan 219-6 (Salman 32, Jamal 0) Salman keeps charging Lyon but not going through with a shot. Three times this over. No run from it.
61st over: Pakistan 219-6 (Salman 32, Jamal 0) Aamer Jamal to the middle, who batted very well for 33 in the first innings but will have to do that much and more this time around. Nearly plays the ball onto his stumps for nought, having to hop back and kick it away.
The Pakistan dream perhaps ends here, and in controversy. Rizwan is livid. A nasty lifter from Cummins angles back at him and he flinches out of the way. It ducks between bat and body, hitting him on the forearm on the way through. He rubs the arm. The Australians appeal for glove. The umpire says no. They send it upstairs. And after about five minutes of replays, the third umpire decides that Hot Spot shows contact with the very top of the elastic wristband of the glove. Did it? I’m not sure, even after that many replays. Maybe? But overturning the onfield call is supposed to be conclusive. In the end, it is overturned, and Rizwan is given out.
60th over: Pakistan 219-5 (Rizwan 35, Salman 32) Cummins keeps the faith with Lyon. Rizwan skips down, yorks himself. Stays home, drives one to long on. Salman reckons that looks a good idea, and also advances only to kick the ball away when he’s not close enough to the pitch to attack it. Long on, deep midwicket, deep point. So he opens his wrists and drives through cover for two.
Klaxon! Psychological less than 100 barrier! Pakistan need 98 to win.
59th over: Pakistan 216-5 (Rizwan 34, Salman 30) Cummins returns from the Members End, just the three overs for Hazlewood in that spell. Bouncer, get him ducking, all of that stuff, but it’s a high bouncer that doesn’t worry The Rizz. One slip and a gully all that remains of the cordon. Deep forward square leg, long leg, fine leg, all back for the short ball. But the angle of the next one is more off stump than bodyline, and Rizwan uppercuts for four! Absurd, stylish, audacious shot. Over the slip. Pulls one more run to the deep. Salman expects a short ball and drives belatedly at a length one, nearly nicking it.
101 to win.
58th over: Pakistan 211-5 (Rizwan 29, Salman 30) Belted! Salman Agha comes down the mown strip and lashes a straight drive hard and flat for four. Then rocks back and cuts Lyon long and late, four more! This is lovely batting. Lyon in the crosshairs. He’s gone for 69 in his 15th over, close to five an over. Salman blocks out the rest of the over. He’s gone past Rizwan’s score.
106 to win.
57th over: Pakistan 203-5 (Rizwan 29, Salman 22) The falling over periscope for none, is it? Yes, Rizwan ducking and playing at the same time, dipping at the knees while reaching the bat skyward. That after Hazlewood nails him on the pad with an in-dipper and appeals, but it’s going just over the bails and the umpire correctly says no. Australia correctly don’t review. No run this over from Large Josh.
56th over: Pakistan 203-5 (Rizwan 29, Salman 22) Bottom-handed flick drive from Rizwan, but Lyon gets down to block it in his follow-through. Then he edges past the keeper! Proper nick, travelling, and it angles up past Carey’s shoulder, maybe flicks the flap of the glove on the way and goes fine of Smith at slip. Proper mistake, but too hot a chance.
Another edge from Salman, top edge, over short fine as he sweeps for two!
Then a third edge, top edge again, as Salman reverse sweeps and lobs it up. Smith dives forward at slip but can’t reach it.
Three false shots in the over. Lyon just shakes his head. Pakistan 114 to win. I said that if they reached 200 at two wickets down, it would be on. They’re five down, and one more wicket pretty much ends it, so I still don’t think it’s on. But it’s a fun idea.
55th over: Pakistan 198-5 (Rizwan 27, Salman 19) Schmackoed past cover again by Rizwan, he’s got a way of making those hits sound so meaty. Dogs go whacko. Hazlewood displeased by those three runs, chats to Cummins. Leg slip in place. Two conventional and a gully. And Salman flashes through that latter gap for four! Was trying to go squarer, true edge, comfortable catching height to third slip… who isn’t there. Four runs. Then three more from a wild bouncer. Swings wide down leg, spills away to be chased, and the umpire calls it.
So Hazlewood who bowled 24 dots in a row has now conceded 10 from two legal balls.
Salman keeps trying to place singles into the gap at cover but finding the field.
119 to win.
54th over: Pakistan 188-5 (Rizwan 24, Salman 15) Lyon is back. Four in the deep for Rizwan, I don’t know about that. Long on, deep midwicket, deep backward, deep point. He just drives a single to that man down the ground. Salman had already done the same, though only three fielders out for him. That’s 129 to win.
53rd over: Pakistan 186-5 (Rizwan 23, Salman 14) Again Salman finds that gap, this time from Hazlewood, this time netting three runs as the ball is pulled up just inside the rope. Lyon’s dive at backward point was fruitless. Rizwan misses his pull shot, over the top. Then Hazlewood, having replaced Cummins, pitches up and strikes the pad, ending up past the striker having run back so far appealing.
Whichever official told me earlier that 30,000 people were here might need some glasses. Or maybe they said 13,000. Either way, just over 18,000 today is the official number, and 164,000 so far for the Test.
52nd over: Pakistan 182-5 (Rizwan 22, Salman 11) Starc to Rizwan, around the wicket, and despite two covers and a mid off the batter still finds a gap between them for a run. Salman makes good contact with a square drive but Lyon stops it. Half a dozen Agha Salman shots have found the field.
And now he’s hit. Ducks into a bouncer, eyes off it and turns his head as it stays a bit low. Wears it above the ear on the side of the helmet. Starc walks down and places a hand on Salman’s shoulder in concern, gets a thumbs-up from the batter.
Wore that flush. He’s staying out there and saying he’s fine, but I’d be surprised if he’s not wobbly after that. It usually shakes up players after a few minutes. We’re doing the physio and new helmet routine now.
And after all that delay, the very next ball he steers four, from back of a length past Marsh in the gully. 135 to win.
51st over: Pakistan 177-5 (Rizwan 21, Salman 7) Inventive shot! Rizwan tugs the ball away fine, short and leg stump-ish and he’s able to spin on his heels to catch up with it. Picks up four, then sprints as soon as he places the next ball towards mid off, and makes his ground. Pakistan 140 away.
I mentioned the 24 dot balls in a row earlier. Some helpful video folks have strung them together.
50th over: Pakistan 172-5 (Rizwan 16, Salman 7) Starc around the wicket to the right-handers, the angle from which he destroyed Pakistan at the MCG on a tense last day in 2016. Almost an impossible win at the start of that day. He used to get a bit more reverse back then. Rizwan slices a run here, Salman steers two more.