Pink faced

K Shahid looks back at Pakistan’s mauling Down Under

Pink faced
Pakistan were absolutely mauled in the 2-0 sweep Down Under – there are no two ways about that. But looking at the reaction of the media, dominated by many who have been humbled in Australia over the past couple of decades, one would think that it’s the first time Pakistan have lost a series by such a magnitude.

The innings defeat in Adelaide means that Pakistan have now lost their last 14 Test matches in Australia, which is the longest streak for any side in any single country. The last time Pakistan won a match in Australia was the 1995/96 tour, with the side losing every single match Down Under since the 1999 series.

Again, the sensationalist hypocrisy of many who were a part of the tours over the past two decades notwithstanding, just because Pakistan have been wretched in Australia in previous tours doesn’t make it okay to continue to be so as things stand.

The biggest reason behind Pakistan’s struggles in Australia has been the bowling displays

The recently concluded tour was packed with mediocrity for the visitors, with “learning curve” not enough of an excuse for the dire straits the team was regularly found in.

It is true that the changes at the helm have had a clear impact on the reaction back home. In addition to many forgetting that Pakistan have now had a string of sweeps in Australia, quite a few also seem to be ignoring the fact that Pakistan have been abysmal in Test cricket over the past two and a half years.

While many look to the batting as Pakistan’s problem area, especially when the side are traveling outside Asia in challenging conditions, but the fact remains that perhaps the biggest reason behind Pakistan’s struggles in Australia has been the bowling displays. And perhaps where this particular Pakistani side really takes the cake is just how shambolic its bowling was.

Azhar Ali

Pakistan’s bowling has always been touted as its unquestionable strength. Mohammed Abbas was recently the number one ranked bowler in the world; Yasir Shah is the quickest bowler in the history to reach 200 Test wickets; Shaheen Afridi, Musa Khan and Naseem Shah are tear-away quicks all set to rule the world. In Australia, what transpired was quite the contrary.

This was especially ominous in the day and night pink-ball second Test at Adelaide, where Pakistan couldn’t have asked for better conditions for their seamers on the first day. After an early, wicket it was all Australia as the hosts would only lose three wickets in the entire match, spearheaded by David Warner’s 335*.

Shaheen Afridi, in patches, was the pick of Pakistan’s ordinary pace attack. Yasir Shah shone with the bat instead and for the second consecutive tour was put to the sword with the ball in his hand.

On the batting front there were a few more positives. Babar Azam making his presence felt in the Test arena being the most prominent. Shan Masood also showed grit in both matches, without managing to capitalise on the many starts that he had.

Babar Azam

Meanwhile, Haris Sohail and Iftikhar Ahmed clearly aren’t meant for Test cricket outside Asia. Imam-ul-Haq hasn’t helped his cause in five-day matches either. While the two senior most batsmen, Asad Shafiq and captain Azhar Ali, were again a letdown, as they have been over the past couple of years.

Even though Asad Shafiq did manage to get on the board, the newly appointed captain was absolutely anonymous as he continues to struggle for runs.

Now the team have around a couple of weeks to regroup and prepare themselves for a Sri Lanka side that will not only be full strength but have also been doing exceedingly well in Test cricket as underlined by their win in South Africa. The pressure is on for team Pakistan as Test cricket returns to the country after a decade.