Pakistan destroy Australia’s tail to take lead at SCG

Australia have conceded a first-innings deficit at home for the first time in 15 Tests after collapsing to be all out for 299 against Pakistan at the SCG.

Cruising at 5-289 in reply to Pakistan’s 313, Australia lost 5-10 either side of tea on day three.

Aamir Jamal was the chief destroyer, taking four wickets in seven balls to finish with 6-69 for the innings and continue what has been a brilliant debut series for the quick.

The 14-run deficit marks the first time the hosts have trailed at home since the Boxing Day Test against India in 2020, more than three years ago.

And the situation could have been worse if not for Mitch Marsh, who led a day-three fightback with 54 to help keep Australia’s hopes of a 3-0 series whitewash alive.

After Australia had lost 3-18 either side of lunch, Marsh and Alex Carey (38) steadied the ship.

Saturday marks six months since Marsh’s return to the Test side at Headingley, where he blitzed a 102-ball century in what was meant to be a one-off cameo.

Since then he has become one of the most pivotal cogs in Australia’s team.

Friday’s half-century was the sixth time he has passed 50 in 11 innings since his return, and he is now averaging 86 for this series.

While Marsh has become known for his brute power and thundering drives since his return, Friday’s innings was more circumspect at a delicate time in the Test.

He had a life on seven when debutant Saim Ayub was caught flat-footed at mid-off just after lunch, then had to get an lbw call overturned on 31, with the ball going over the stumps.

Otherwise he played with confidence, with his most imposing shot a boundary through cover off paceman Mir Hamza.

Carey had, at times, looked the more fluent of the pair.

After a rough patch with the bat in 2023, the left-hander is back playing his cover-drive with confidence, and he appeared better balanced before his dismissal.

But when he was bowled on what would be the last ball before tea with a Sajid Khan ball that brushed the leg bail after coming off his hip, the game turned.

Marsh hit Aamir straight to cover after the tea break, before Pat Cummins was out lbw to the quick.

Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood followed in quick succession, both caught in the slips off Aamir.

The wickets followed a similar storyline earlier in the day, when Steve Smith (38) and Marnus Labuschagne (60) had added 79 for the third wicket.

But they too fell in consecutive overs before lunch, with Smith set up by an umbrella field on the offside and caught at cover off Hamza.

Labuschagne followed six balls later for 60, with a delivery that spun back out of the footmarks from Salman Agha (2-43) and proved chasing in the fourth innings could be difficult.

Travis Head was also trapped lbw by Aamir for 10 after lunch, before Marsh and Carey led a brief Australian fightback.

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