How do Australia solve a problem like Imam-ul-Haq?
Not easily, and not with traditional line-and-length bowling, according to Marnus Labuschagne.
The thorn in Australia’s side all tour, Imam threatens to again be the game breaker for Pakistan in Saturday night’s ODI decider.
In seven innings against Australia in the past month, Imam has four times passed 100 and averaged 82.71.
In the Test series, Australia managed to pull off an historic 1-0 victory despite having little answer for the opener.
In the ODIs his record is even stronger: two games for two centuries.
And on wickets made for run-scoring, the 26-year-old looks unlikely to miss an opportunity to stand up when it matters.
“I think we just have to think a bit more outside the box,” Labuschagne said.
“He hasn’t really put a foot wrong and he is the type of player who doesn’t give many opportunities to get him out.
“It is one for us to have a look at. There’s not much bounce or pace on these wickets.
“In Australia you might go short ball and try and get it high and get a catch at square leg or fine leg.
“You don’t have that luxury here, you have to keep going at the stumps.
“There was a little bit of reverse swing.
“He is a very good player, top-10 in the world for one-day cricket, so we have to go to the chalk board and work that out.”
Australia’s other thought is to try and chase in Lahore.
Dew was a factor in Thursday night’s six-wicket loss as Pakistan chased down 8-348 with an over to spare, but batting does get easier as games go on in Asia.
The ODI series-opener was another high-scoring affair, while the average runs scored per wicket during Australia’s tour is 46.02 across the two teams.
“We need to defend better, or maybe we need to look at batting second potentially,” Australia’s century-maker Ben McDermott said.
“The dew does play a little bit of a factor here. We saw a couple of our bowlers slip a little bit. I slipped in the outfield and missed a couple of runs.
“We might look to change there. But 350 was a good score (in the second ODI), they just batted beautifully.”