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Pakistan set 465 to win, reach 1-55 at SCG

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/01/2017 Rob Forsaith

Australia's batsmen embarrassed Pakistan's patched-up attack on Friday at the SCG, handing Nathan Lyon the perfect platform to shine on the final day of the three-Test series.

Australia declared at 2-241 late on day four of the third Test, setting the tourists a target of 465 after demoralising their bowlers in record-breaking fashion.

The hosts' run-rate in their second innings was a record 7.53 from 32 overs when Steve Smith pulled the pin; previously the highest rate in a Test innings of 100-plus runs was 6.82.

Pakistan were 1-55 in response at stumps, with Lyon having taken the only wicket to fall.

The veteran offspinner, who had been on the cusp of being dropped earlier this summer following a lean trot, will be asked to bowl Australia to victory on day five.

Confidence should not be an issue for Lyon, who starred in the Boxing Day Test and snagged three wickets at the SCG in Pakistan's first innings of 315.

Smith is certain to bowl him in long spells on Saturday, with star pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood exhausted after playing all six Tests of the home summer.

The spin-friendly pitch is starting to crack, while Pakistan have been asked to achieve a record run chase for the second time in the series.

Quick runs were the order of the day after Smith opted against enforcing the follow-on in Sydney, where the morning session was washed out for the second day in a row.

Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb didn't disappoint, feasting on the many loose balls dished up by the tourists.

Pakistan have looked remarkably non-threatening in the field throughout the three-Test series, which Australia had wrapped up in Melbourne.

Even by those standards, they underwhelmed on Friday. Mohammad Amir didn't bowl because of injury, while hobbled legspinner Yasir Shah went for almost nine runs an over.

Khawaja, opening in the absence of concussed Matt Renshaw, top-scored with 79 not out but it was Warner who stunned the SCG faithful with a quickfire knock of 55.

Warner set an Australian record by taking just 23 balls to reach 50. It was the second-fastest half-century in Test cricket history.

Only Misbah-ul-Haq's 21-ball effort against Australia in 2014 was faster.

The highlight came in the fourth over of the innings, when Warner hammered Yasir for consecutive sixes and helped himself to 21 runs.

Earlier in the week, the vice-captain started the match by becoming the first batsman to achieve a century before lunch on day one of a Test in Australia.

The tourists resumed at 8-271 on Friday, frustrating Australia for 15 overs before Hazlewood removed Yasir and Imran Khan in the space of three balls.

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