Nathan Lyon targets 3-0 Test series sweep against Pakistan

Australia off-spinner expects good batting conditions early on in Rawalpindi Test

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Australia are in Pakistan for what will be a historic Test series - their first visit in 24 years - but there will be no room for sentiment once play begins in Rawalpindi on Friday.

Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon said that while he was proud to be involved in his team's first tour of the country in nearly a quarter of a century, he was aiming for a 3-0 Test sweep.

Pat Cummins' team are the form side after their 4-0 Ashes series victory over England earlier this year, but will face vastly different conditions in the south Asian nation. Even so, the target remains the same for Lyon.

"My mindset is every game we go into, we will look to win, not draw or lose. My mindset is to win 3-0 in Pakistan," Lyon was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Pakistan have struggled to attract touring sides since the attack on Sri Lanka team's bus in 2009.

Having been forced to play their home games mostly in the UAE for a decade, Pakistan hope the Australians' stay will be without incident as it tries to reassure the international community it can guarantee safety.

Both New Zealand and England were scheduled to tour last year. However, the Black Caps pulled out of their tour in September just minutes before their first match was due to start, citing security fears, and England postponed tours by both their men's and women's teams soon after.

This time, Pakistan are leaving no stone unturned to ensure safety of the players with nearly 4,000 police and military personnel guarding the team hotel in Islamabad and the nearby Rawalpindi Stadium. The significance of the series is not lost on Lyon.

"Pakistan haven't had the opportunity to have a lot of international cricket here over a number of years so to be able to be the first Australian team to come here to play ... It's a pretty proud moment," Lyon said.

"We've spoken as a group about how big it is for the people of Pakistan to see the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne ... these guys are proud to come out here and play to be role models."

The veteran off-spinner said the surface for the first Test looked similar to those in the UAE and expected a good batting pitch early before spin and reverse swing later.

"My role is going to change across the Test matches. There's going to be times where I'll be in a holding role ... where there is opportunity for me to be more attacking I will," Lyon said.

"All bowlers in our squad are well prepared to play whatever role it takes to perform well. It's going to be challenging but we've got the squad to cover all areas."

Lyon said he was relishing the challenge of bowling against one of the world's top batsmen - Babar Azam.

The 34-year-old is the highest wicket-taker in the Australia squad with 415 scalps from 105 Tests, and boasts a record of 95 victims in 19 matches across Asia.

Azam is the world's number one batsman in ODIs as well Twenty20s, and is ranked ninth in the Test rankings.

"I have always said from day one of my career that I want to compete against the best players in the world, and Babar is definitely one of those guys," Lyon said.

Updated: March 02, 2022, 8:12 AM
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