Pakistan had never beaten Australia in a Test since 1995, so a win was really out of the question as the visitors arrived Down Under. At the same time, a 3-0 surrender would be something Misbah-ul-Haq’s men would be deeply disappointed with. They will be aware without doubt that they are a much better side than the final scoreline demonstrates. After all, this was the same team that held a strong England to a 2-2 draw in the latter’s home den. And despite the reverse in New Zealand, they would have been hopeful of competing with Australia since they had the arsenal to challenge the Aussies.
So, what exactly went wrong for Pakistan? For one, they definitely lacked the confidence to take on Australia. This was evident in the way David Warner and company bulldozed the Pakistani bowlers, on the penultimate day at the SCG, treating them like club bowlers, and the latter had no response. They were completely taken aback, and could only watch in shock and awe. There were periods with the bat as well when they fell prey to this complete lack of assurance. They should have saved the second Test, but instead crumbled on the final day like a proverbial pack of cards. By the time, they arrived in Sydney, they had given up.
The big problem for Pakistan was that the key men did not put their hands up, either with bat or the ball. Younis Khan and skipper Misbah, as always, were expected to shoulder a major burden of the responsibility, but they failed, and with them sunk Pakistan’s hopes as well. Younis did get a brilliant 175 in the final Test, but by the time it was too late. There were too many low scores before that. Misbah, on the other hand, finished with a highest score of 38, to add to the struggles in New Zealand. No wonder he is thinking of retirement.
Of all the batsmen in the Pakistani team, Azhar Ali was the only one who will return with his reputation enhanced. His double hundred in the Melbourne Test was a brilliant effort even as it came in a losing cause. Even otherwise, he looked in good touch. Having an unsteady opening combination though made matters tough for the visitors. Sami Aslam just could not stand up to Australia’s bowling while Sharjeel Khan was chosen too late to make an impact. Asad Shafiq had one brilliant knock but the consistency was missing. Sarfraz Ahmed was batting too low to leave an impression.
Pakistan’s bowling was equally poor. They just could not keep Australia under control, especially at times when Warner went berserk. Again, it was a matter of lack of confidence and consistency. Mohammad Amir was nowhere near his menacing best while Wahab Riaz only looked wicket-taking in phases. Yasir Shah was the biggest disappointment of all. Of course, the leggie wasn’t expected to take a bagful of wickets, like he does in the middle-east. But, the manner in which he was treated by the Aussies batsmen surely dented his psyche and, in turn, that of the team.
--By A Cricket Analyst