Australia confident of stopping Pakistan
Two summers ago in Perth, South Africa changed Australia's perception about gettable fourth-innings targets. When Graeme Smith's men cruised to 414 with four wickets down, it seemed that no aim was out of reach anymore, provided the pitch was true and the batting strong. Fast forward 18 months and the Lord's surface is excellent, but Australia remain confident that Pakistan's batting group boasts no JP Duminy or AB de Villiers clones.
Pakistan will enter what will likely be the final day full of hope, needing 326 with nine wickets in hand and two batsmen well set, although Azhar Ali survived a perilously close lbw shout on the final ball of the day. Much will depend on the weather - when the clouds disappeared on the third day so did the swing - but given Pakistan's first-innings capitulation for 148, Australia are certain they can complete their task, even under sunny skies.
"We've got plenty of runs on the board," the wicketkeeper Tim Paine said. "Right up until the last ball tonight we showed that we're going to be creating chances. If we bowl well there's enough there for us to keep them under pressure and create those chances to win the game. If we can get a couple of early wickets tomorrow and get stuck in to their middle and lower order, as we showed in the first innings if we put them under pressure we can take wickets pretty quickly."
While Pakistan will rely heavily on Salman Butt, who has been their most composed batsman in the Test, their two debutants Umar Amin and Azhar will be keen to make a name for themselves. In Perth, Australia were surprised by the poise of a newcomer, Duminy, and the similarities don't end there.
Back then, Australia's bowling group featured a highly attacking spinner who leaked runs as he tossed the ball up to entice drives. Jason Krejza is gone from the side but in his place is Steven Smith, who is equally aggressive, and collected his first Test wicket when Imran Farhat pulled a long hop straight to midwicket.
However, Smith's first spell of Test bowling was far from poor; he aimed at the footmarks outside the left-hander's off stump and gave the ball plenty of opportunity to spin. "For his first Test match there's a lot to like," Shane Warne said from the commentary box, and Smith's fellow debutant Paine expects the spinner to play a key role on the fourth day.
"He looked really good," Paine said. "He started very well. As his spell got on, he got more dangerous. When he went around the wicket he started to spin a few quite a long way. He'll definitely play a role at some stage tomorrow. I think early tomorrow if our pace attack get those early breakthroughs, I'm sure Smithy will cause the lower and middle order some trouble later on."
But the work begins with the seamers in the first session. And if there are clouds in the sky, there may be no silver lining for Pakistan.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo