Mis­bah’s swan­song in Syd­ney?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

SYD­NEY: Hav­ing al­ready won the se­ries, Aus­tralia will tar­get a clean sweep, while Pak­istan pre­pares for a fu­ture with­out Mis­bah-ul-Haq,

when the third and fi­nal Test be­gins in Syd­ney today.

Aus­tralia sealed the se­ries with a game to spare on an ac­tion­packed fi­nal day of the sec­ond Test in Mel­bourne, where Pak­istan ca­pit­u­lated in less than two ses­sions.

It was only the fifth in­stance in his­tory of a side los­ing by an in­nings af­ter scor­ing more than 400 in the first in­nings.

With the op­por­tu­nity to keep the se­ries alive go­ing into the fi­nal Test lost, a shat­tered Pak­istan will also have to soon rec­on­cile to life with­out Mis­bah, their most suc­cess­ful cap­tain, who ad­mit­ted af­ter the Mel­bourne de­feat that he was con­sid­er­ing re­tire­ment. “I al­ways be­lieved that if I couldn’t con­trib­ute to the team, then it’s no point stay­ing there. I haven’t de­cided (about Syd­ney), but let’s see,” Mis­bah said af­ter the sec­ond Test. How­ever, the Pak­istan team man­age­ment has since con­firmed that Mis­bah will both play and lead in Syd­ney in what could be the last Test match of his sto­ried ca­reer. Pak­istan will once again fo­cus on cor­rect­ing their poor record in Aus­tralia. They are fac­ing their 12th straight de­feat since their last Test win in Syd­ney 22 years ago. Aus­tralia, too, will be look­ing ahead to the fu­ture with an im­por­tant four-Test se­ries in In­dia in Fe­bru­ary-March.

Steve Smith, the Aus­tralian skip­per, con­firmed that Steven O’Keefe would line up as the sec­ond spe­cial­ist spin­ner be­hind Nathan Lyon, the off-spin­ner, and also for­malised a de­but for Hil­ton Cartwright, the bat­ting all-rounder who will slot in at No 6, in the 13-man squad on a pitch ex­pected to as­sist turn.

Aus­tralia and Pak­istan will also play a five-match ODI se­ries start­ing in Bris­bane on Jan­uary 13. TEAMS

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