Australia eyes series sweep after setting Pakistan 465 to win

David Warner’s 22-ball fifty helps home side declare on 241/2, scored in just 32 overs, before visitor reaches 55/1 by end of Day 4

ICC Awards - Australia eyes series sweep after setting Pakistan 465 to win
David Warner smashed the second fastest half century in Test cricket off 23 balls, as Australia scored at 7.53 runs per over throughout their innings.
Australia finished the fourth day of the third and final Test against Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday (January 6) nine wickets away from completing a series sweep.
 
Following David Warner's blistering 23-ball half-century, which enabled Australia to declare on 241 for 2 and set an improbable 465-run target for the visiting side, Pakistan went to stumps at 55 for 1, having lost Sharjeel Khan for a 38-ball 40, still 410 runs away from victory.
 
Australia scored at 7.53 runs an over and each of the top three came up with half-centuries, but none was more entertaining than the 55 David Warner scored. It was the second fastest half-century in Test history – off 23 balls – and it was exactly what Australia needed in its pursuit for quick runs in a match that has lost a lot of time to rain. 
 
At the time of the declaration, Usman Khawaja was unbeaten on 79 from 98 balls with five fours and a six and Peter Handscomb was on 40 from 25 balls. Steven Smith, the Australia skipper, also contributed a 43-ball 59 with eight fours and a six to add to Pakistan’s woes. 
 
Opening alongside Khawaja, who moved up in the order because Matt Renshaw was ruled out of the match after being assessed for concussion, Warner hit Yasir Khan for six, six, four and four in the fourth over of the innings, and then clouted Imran Khan for four consecutive boundaries in the seventh over. His frenetic half-century, studded with seven fours and three sixes, ranked only behind Misbah-ul-Haq's effort off 21 balls against Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2014. Warner fell when he missed a big swing and was bowled by Wahab Riaz after a 27-ball blitz.
 
Earlier in the day, after rain washed out the morning session, Younis Khan extended his overnight score from 136 to 175 not out when the last Pakistani wicket fell at 315. Younis's effort helped Pakistan add to its overnight score of 271 for 8 by 44 runs.
 
Josh Hazlewood, who got both the remaining wickets, finished with 4 for 55.
 
The home side decided against enforcing follow-on despite securing a first-innings lead of 223 runs, deciding instead to bat aggressively and set Pakistan a big target with three-and-a-half sessions to bowl the opposition out.
 
The approach of Azhar Ali and Sharjeel, the Pakistan openers, were in sharp contrast – where Azhar was patient and focussed on settling down, Sharjeel opted to put the pressure back on Australia with a range of scoring shots.
 
He perished when he tried to flick Nathan Lyon, the off-spinner, against the turn over mid-wicket but failed to get the elevation and Warner grabbed a simple catch.
 
Azhar survived nervy moments to remain unbeaten at 11 off 48 balls when stumps were drawn with Yasir, the night-watchman, for company with three off 11.
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