The prediction of most cricket analysts and enthusiasts has come true. Pakistan has been completely outplayed by Australia in the Test series. After an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to an inexperienced Sri Lanka team at home, a 2-0 T20I series defeat to Australia, the 2-0 defeat is another blow to Misbah ul Haq’s tenure as Chief Selector and Head coach. Before we look at what Misbah did wrong here, let’s look at what the selected team did wrong in the first place to record two Test defeats in Australia test series, both by a margin of more than an innings.
First and foremost, let’s talk about Captain Azhar Ali in Australia test series. After two consecutive exquisite seasons for Somerset in the English county circuit, one would expect that he would have had at least one innings worth celebrating. However, after today’s defeat, it seems his heroics remain exclusive to country cricket only. Azhar Ali only managed to score 39, 5, 9 and 9 with an average of 15.5. Moreover, his last 11 innings have been 5, 36, 0, 2, 6, 0, 15, 39, 5, 9 and 9. This is awfully shocking for a captain of a team that is competing in the ICC Test Championship.
Furthermore, Iftikhar Ahmed and Harris Sohail showed no resolve in the batting. Both of them could not score even half century in 6 innings combined.
A Few Good Men
Perhaps the only positive in batting we can talk about are the brilliant Babar Azam, Asad Shafique, maybe Shan Masood, and surprisingly Yasir Shah!
Babar Azam has proven himself around the world as a top player in the white ball category. However, most critics had a concern over his red/pink ball game. This series should mediate that, as he got his first century in Australia. He almost got another before getting out on 97. Two scores of this magnitude in this condition should show critics that he is qualified for Test cricket.
Asad Shafique has always prevailed as a great performer in Australia test series. His heroics in the 2016 tour of Australia are still remembered today when he almost grabbed our first win in decades on Australian soil. Once again, he remained on the better side of the performers in the Pakistan camp. He managed to get two half centuries out of four innings.
Shan Masood, often the target of critics, also managed to get runs on the board. He performed better than most predicted, relative to the team’s overall performance.
Finally, let’s come to the main reason we were outplayed beyond measure. That is obviously our bowling department suffering greatly. This is where Misbah seemed to fail with the selection. It was always going to be a tough tour with after the unexpected retirement of Muhammad Amir and Wahab Riaz from Test Cricket, but surely no one expected us to perform this horribly. Musa and Naseem Shah were introduced as debutants for this tour. These two promising teenagers have immense potential undoubtedly. However, to introduce them to international cricket on an away tour to Australia was a bit unorthodox. Especially when you have the likes of Usman Shinwari, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Faheem Ashraf and Hasnain available to play. Furthermore, Tabish Khan, who just completed 567 first class wickets recently, should have been the first choice to make his Test debut after the retirement of Amir and Wahab. His experience would have surely aided the team in Australia. Pakistan only managed to get 13 wickets from Australia, in which both the debutants only contributed one wicket. This is probably the first time people will confidently say that the Pakistani pace attack is one of the weaker ones in the cricketing world.
For many, Sarfraz was missed immensely. His leadership and experience could have turned tables on his tour. His unexpecting sacking from captaincy and removal from all squads was surprising but cheered for after consecutive defeats. They won’t be cheering now. Former World Cup winning Australian captain Ricky Ponting pointed out how his removal from the team was hurting Pakistan cricket. He further added that this young and inexperienced team was not ready to tour Australia without him and his expertise and batting experience could have made this mess a little less messy.
Finally, the curious case of Fawad Alam will always confuse avid cricketing fans. Why he was not selected for this tour either is a mystery. Fawad recently completed 12000 first class runs, and his average is ranked among the best in first class cricket along the likes of Don Bradman and Tendulkar. He has the best average for a Pakistani batter in first class cricket with over 12k runs. Maybe players like Fawad and Tabish need to be added to the squad and the young guns from PSL should go and play more first-class cricket before taking on lions like Australia. Perhaps then we would not face two test match defeats with such an embarrassing margin.