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Starc centimetres from rare Test feat

For the 15th time, Mitchell Starc was on a hat-trick for Australia.

And for the 15th time, he missed the rare milestone – this time by mere centimetres.

Not that it bothers Starc too much.

“I didn’t know that was the number,” Starc said of his opportunities to take a hat-trick in all formats for Australia.

“It’s not like you chase it.

“You try and play a part and it’s not something I have ever thought too much about.”

Starc took three wickets in sizzling spells of reverse-swing bowling as Pakistan wilted in the Karachi heat on day three of the second Test.

After watching Australia’s batsmen amass 9(dec)-556 in two days and 35 minutes – 189 overs all up – Pakistan crashed to 148 all out in 53 overs.

Australia then opted against the follow-on, reaching 1-81 at stumps – a massive lead of 489 runs.

Starc was the chief destroyer, his 3-29 from 13 overs including the dismissals of Azhar Ali and Fawad Alam in consecutive deliveries.

His hat-trick ball was a ripper, angling in to Mohammad Rizwan, who shaped a defensive shot, only for the ball to move way, just past his outside edge.

“That ball must have hit a crack … it was still a decent ball,” Starc said.

Starc’s strikes came as lost Pakistan 9-92 in a 23-over span.

“I’m not sure we thought it might happen that quickly,” Starc said.

“Credit to the whole bowling attack, and certainly the fielders as well, to apply ourselves in the way we did and come away with the results we did.

“It really sets up a good final two days.”

Some pundits railed against captain Pat Cummins’ decision to extend Australia’s innings into the third day.

Some queries were also raised about Cummins’ decision not to enforce the follow-on as Australia seek a first Karachi win in nine Tests, and 1-0 series lead.

“How we bowled today has given us the opportunity to explore the options of how we want to approach it,” Starc said.

“By no means are we thinking too far ahead.

“All we have done is give ourselves a really good opportunity to dictate the game in any number of options we want to take.

“There’s still two days. There’s still going to be 10 wickets we have got to take.

“I know we have got a healthy lead, no doubt.

“But if you look at Test matches gone-by in both Pakistan and the UAE and on the subcontinent, you don’t see too many home sides enforce the follow-on.”

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