Australia finished off a memorable 2023 with a resounding 79-run win in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in Melbourne as the Pat Cummins-led side took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Cummins led from the front with his second 10-wicket haul in a match as Pakistan would be disappointed that they let this one slip through their hands given it was there for the taking as the visitors needed 98 runs to win with five wickets in hand but one wicket and it all came downhill on Day 4 on Friday, December 29.

The day started with Australia adding 75 runs to their overnight score of 187 to set a target of 317 runs for Pakistan to chase down in the final innings. Alex Carey scored a fifty and was the last man to get out ensuring Australia's lead went beyond 300. The target was always going to be challenging for Pakistan but they made more than a decent fight out of it with skipper Shan Masood leading from the front yet again.

Both the openers got out cheaply before Shan and former Pakistan skipper Babar Azam kept the Australians at bay for an hour or so. Shan came out with positive intent and fought fire with fire. For the first time in the series, Babar Azam looked assured of his defence and was determined to do something for his side before another incoming delivery from Josh Hazlewood had his name written on it.

Shan smashed a 71-ball 60 while

Babar got out after scoring 41. Both got starts but Pakistan needed one of their senior batters to go long and score a century if they had any chance of winning the Test match. Agha Salman and Mohammad Rizwan then stitched a 57-run stand and brought the required runs to less than 100.

Pakistan team and their fans had started believing but it was the last recognised pair and they needed both of them to get them to at least 260-270 but one wicket and it all game downhill. Cummins' delivery hit Mohammad Rizwan's wristband on the way to the wicketkeeper. The third umpire reckoned that the band was attached to the glove and hence overturned the decision in Australia's favour. Rizwan was clearly unhappy. Salman scored a fifty but it wasn't to be for Pakistan.

From 219/5, Pakistan folded for 237 with Cummins taking 5/49, following up his figures of 5/48 in the first innings. Mitchell Marsh starred with the bat yet again for Australia as his 96 in the second innings after surviving a dropped catch was the turning point. For Pakistan, skipper Shan smashed fifties in both innings and mentioned that the game could have been different if they had taken their chances.

Pakistan will hope to avoid a clean sweep in Sydney as they dropped to fifth place in the World Test Championship points table while Australia rose to joint-second place alongside New Zealand and Bangladesh.
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