Zulfiqar Babar

Absolutely battered: The cricket stats you need to read

Australia have been completely battered by Pakistan. Their weak batting was exposed, restricted to 900 runs for the loss of 40 wickets, spluttering past 300 just once. Australia’s uncreative bowlers were forced to deliver 447 overs, conceding 1600 runs and taking just 20 wickets. Pakistan mercifully declared three of their four innings.

This is Pakistan’s first series win against Australia in twenty years and the 356 run winning margin in the second Test is their biggest ever Test match win, against any opponent.

From this moment until the first ball of their next Test against India in Brisbane, Australia will be dissected by cricket media. Their performance in the UAE was an outright disgrace.

In over 100 years of Test cricket Australia averages just above 30 runs per wicket. They’ve surrendered more than 80 runs per wicket here. Pakistan’s bowlers have played 11 Tests together. They hounded Australia’s batsman and their spinners, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar, looked a thousand times more likely than Nathan Lyon on spin-friendly wickets. Lyon’s future in the Test team must be in doubt after a calamitous showing.

Only Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Johnson (1st Test) and Mitchell Marsh showed any fight with the bat. Marsh’s 47 in the second innings of the second Test was worth more than David Warner’s 58 because Marsh absorbed 130 balls. Warner only faced 75. That is not good enough when you’ve been set an impossible 603 and surviving 140 overs is the only way to save the Test.

It’s easy to attack when momentum is on your side. The true standard of a Test batsman is measured by their ability to defy momentum when it’s with the opposition. Warner is a potential future great, but he’s yet to prove he can lead a resistance against the odds, defend his team’s dignity and save a Test.

Although I’d be tempted to leave him there for now, Chris Rogers’ position will be questioned ahead of the India series. Whoever is responsible for picking Glenn Maxwell at 3 in the Australian Test side should be forced to look for a new job. A colossal failure, the T20 specialist known as the “big show” got out cheaply playing two T20 shots. Australia have used eight players at three since 2011.

In contrast Pakistan’s batsmen were phenomenal. So good that not only did we see the first batsmen in 90 years to score a hundred in each innings of a Test against Australia, it happened again in the second Test, twice! Azhar Ali has a bright future and Younus Khan’s double century in the 2nd Test was sheer class. He is an all time great. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq nailed Australia’s bowlers to the desert floor yesterday by scoring the fastest ever Test 50. He then equalled Viv Richards’ record for the fastest ever hundred in Test Match history, just 56 balls.

That’s quicker than Adam Gilchrist’s destruction of Andy Flintoff and co at the WACA in 2006, a moment that channel nine hasn’t hesitated to replay at least two thousand times. Pakistan have every right to brag after this one. They’ll be wishing this was a five Test series but Australia return home tomorrow for yet another mickey-mouse T20 and ODI series that few will take interest in.

The Lehmann led revival has come to a grinding halt.

Twenty Years of Hurt: Pakistan’s victory in the making

Cricket Froth’s more mature readers will remember the days when Australia toured Pakistan; a time before the 1992 ODI World Champions were forced to play their home series in an adopted country. Earlier this year Cricket Froth discussed Pakistan’s last Test series victory over Australia in the nostalgia of cricket in Pakistan. The crux of that article is recorded here:

“During the ’94 tour Pakistan won a nail biter by one wicket at Karachi with big performances from Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and current England spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed.

In the following Test Saleem Malik scored a double tonne, which ensured a draw at Rawalpindi. Michael Slater, Damien Fleming, Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan excelled. During Pakistan’s epic 2nd innings every Australian player – except Ian Healy – had a bowl. Yes, even Mark Taylor and David Boon rolled the arm over. In fact, opening batsmen Taylor and Slater took wickets! The third Test at Lahore was also a draw. Pakistan won the series 1-0.

They had some good players. I imagine that tours there were extremely challenging, but equally rewarding. I think Australia’s last tour occurred in 1998, a 1-0 victory for Australia – Peshawar providing the scene for Mark Taylor’s 334 and a big series performance from Ijaz Ahmed and the introduction of youngster Shoaib Akhtar.

In a nostalgic and perhaps rose-tinted sense tours to Pakistan and the West Indies seemed to be the epitome of tough international Test Match cricket. It’s a massive loss that international cricket isn’t played in Pakistan and West Indies struggle from poor governance and administration, un-helped by the ICC and India’s selfish scheduling of T20 tournaments.

In Pakistan the instability and threat of violence means that cricket seems an impossible and a luxurious frivolity in comparison to the issues facing their people. I hope that cricket can return to Pakistan in the near future, because that will mean things have substantially improved.”

If Pakistan nullify Australia in Abu Dhabi they’ll score their first victory in 9 series played across 20 years against Australia. It would be momentous. But Michael Clarke’s men will resolve to prevent it. I expect a more dedicated performance from Australia’s batsmen. The toss will be critical, but not solely determinant.

Australia will need to attack at key moments and prevent Pakistan from reaching a defensible position. The hosts will take a draw. Australia’s spinners – I’m looking at you Nathan Lyon – must penetrate.

I have been a big supporter of Lyon, but his return in the 1st Test was a damning moment in his 36 Test career. Pakistan had scored 454 runs before Lyon took a wicket in the first innings. He finished with 2/148, which was 0/144 until Pakistan’s wicket keeper, Sarfraz, hit out on 109 and a tailender skied one to Rogers at point. He returned 0/72 from 18 overs in Pakistan’s declared second innings.

Pakistan’s spinners looked a million dollars. On debut Yasir Shah took 7/116 and Zulfiqar Babar, playing his 3rd Test, took 7/155 in the match. Shah looks the business, but leg spin is a tough art.

Abu Dhabi may not offer as much spin and there is a rumour Australia may drop Lyon or O’Keefe for a quicker option. “That demonstrates Australia’s confidence in their spinners [on spinning decks]” said a colleague. Mitchell Starc could become the third Mitchell in Australia’s XI (bizarre). Glenn Maxwell could be a late bolter (good player of spin) if Alex Doolan is cut. I’m not convinced of Maxwell’s ability as a top 6 Test batsmen, but Doolan needs runs to repel the criticism that he isn’t one either.

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