SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia ended Pakistan’s resistance before the scheduled tea break on the final day of the third test to claim an emphatic victory by 220 runs and a 3-0 series sweep on Saturday.
Two months after being plunged into crisis and overhauling their side in the wake of a series humiliation at the hands of South Africa, Australia reasserted their dominance of home tracks in some style.
The tourists had shown great fight at various points of the series but, handed a test record victory target of 465 to chase, wilted in the Sydney Cricket Ground sunshine and lost their final nine wickets for 189 runs.
Paceman Josh Hazlewood led the way with three for 29, striking with two early wickets and again to remove final batsman Imran Khan with the new ball as Pakistan were dismissed for 244.
“These last three matches, that’s what we’re about, that’s sort of cricket we want to play,” said Australia captain Steve Smith, who was named Player of the Series.
“We want to score big runs, bowl well, we’ve held our catches. It’s been a great turnaround and I’ve been very proud of the last few weeks.”
Pakistan, who briefly topped the test rankings last year, have now lost six straight tests, one to West Indies in Sharjah, two in New Zealand and three in Australia.
It was also a 12th straight defeat over four series in Australia in the last two decades.
“It was a tough series, full credit to Australia, they obviously outplayed us in every department,” skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said.
“They bowled well, they caught well and they batted well. They utilised the conditions very well.”
The tourists had been on the back foot from the first day in Sydney, when Man of the Match David Warner knocked off a century before lunch, and only some disruptive wet weather allowed them to stave off defeat until the fifth.
They managed 315 between showers in response to Australia’s first innings 538-8 declared but the writing was on the wall when the hosts reeled off 241 in less than three hours in their second dig on day four.
Hazlewood struck in the first over of the final day, removing the dangerous Azhar Ali, caught and bowled for 11, and soon trapped Babar Azam leg before for nine.
Younus Khan, who hit an unbeaten 175 in the first innings, made 13 before he was caught playing a false shot off Nathan Lyon, leaving him 23 runs short of becoming the 13th batsman, and first from Pakistan, to record 10,000 runs in test cricket.
Nightwatchman Yasir Shah also perished with 13 runs to his name when he edged behind off spinner Steve O‘Keefe (3-53) to send Pakistan into lunch on 128-5.
Paceman Mitchell Starc removed Asad Shafiq for 30 in the fifth over after the break and O‘Keefe sent back Misbah for 38 and Wahab Riaz in the 40 minutes before tea, the latter clubbing three successive fours off Lyon for his 12.
Should the 42-year-old Misbah decide to retire, he will not want to be reminded of his final stroke in test cricket, a mistimed heave which looped into the waiting hands of Lyon at mid-off.
Wahab was less to blame for his exit, given out caught behind when a review revealed a tiny spike in the Snickometer waveform.
Mohammad Amir, who is carrying a rib injury, then ran himself out for four before Hazlewood performed the coup de grace by having Imran caught in the cordon.
Sarfraz Ahmed fired his 11th test half century to frustrate the Australians and finished unbeaten after a 70-ball 72.
The hosts had won the day-night opening test in Brisbane by 39 runs and the second test in Melbourne by an innings and 18 runs.
Editing by John O'Brien