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Australia claim miracle MCG Test win

AAP logoAAP 29/12/2016 Roger Vaughan

Australia cricket captain Steve Smith has hailed the tumultuous Boxing Day Test win over Pakistan as the sort of performance that can define his young team.

Just six weeks after the humiliating loss to South Africa in Hobart that forced a re-cast of the side, Australia are now on a roll.

But Smith said despite six-straight wins in Tests and one dayers, Australia remain a work in progress.

They will head to Sydney aiming for a clean sweep of the Pakistan series following Friday's miracle win by an innings and 18 runs.

After four rain-plagued days, Australia started on Friday with only a first-innings lead of 22.

A tame draw and an early finish were the most likely outcomes.

But only one team started day five thinking it could win, with Smith and Mitchell Starc punishing Pakistan's lacklustre bowling.

Australia declared on 8-624, the highest Test score at the MCG.

Two quick Pakistan wickets either side of lunch, followed by an inspired three-wicket spell in the middle session from spinner Nathan Lyon, piled on the pressure.

After dominating with 9 (dec)-443 in their first innings, Pakistan steadily deteriorated through the rest of the Test and they were bowled out in their second innings for 163.

It gave Australia an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series and again confirmed the tourists' reputation as Test cricket's most mercurial team.

Smith hopes Friday's amazing turnaround can inspire his players, much as the Adelaide Ashes win in 2006 and the controversial 2010 SCG win over Pakistan were landmarks for those sides.

Australia overcame a substantial first-innings deficit six years ago to win by 36 runs and it later emerged some Pakistan players might have been involved in match fixing.

Asked about the comparison to the 2006 and '10 Australian wins, Smith replied: "I hope so ... it can give you that belief, to know you're never out of the game or you can pull a win out of your hat from nowhere.

"It was quite remarkable the way we were able to do that today.

"Everything went to plan - it was one of those days.

"Hopefully the guys can take a lot of confidence out of the way they've played this week."

By contrast, dejected Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq admitted post-game that he will weigh up his future ahead of next week's third Test.

Since Hobart and the six changes to the team that followed, Australia have won the dead-rubber Test against South Africa, swept New Zealand in three one dayers and now won the Pakistan series.

But Smith will demand continued improvement from his team.

"We're still a work in progress, we're a young team and I'm proud of the boys," he said.

"It's been outstanding, but we want a clean sweep in Sydney and we need to continue to improve in every aspect."

Smith was named man of the match for his 165no, ahead of the unbeaten 205 and 43 from gutsy Pakistan opener Azhar Ali.

Starc also had an inspired Boxing Day Test debut, combining with Smith for the crucial seventh-wicket stand of 154.

Starc's blazing 84 featured seven sixes, beating compatriot Andrew Symonds's six for the most in a Test innings at the MCG.

Starc then cut loose with his reverse swing, taking 4-36 to help put Pakistan to the sword.

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