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Australia represents Pakistan cricket’s last frontier

With just a single point ahead of sixth place New Zealand and Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s ascent to the top of the cricketing world is already a distant memory. If one throws into the equation the recent whitewash in the land of the Kiwis, even the fifth place on the rankings gets some additional layers of perspective. But did the end result in Australia come as a surprise to anyone? Hardly. Pakistani outfits have been at the receiving end Down Under since 1995 when they registered their last victory in Australia. Even that had come in a 1-2 dead rubber, but, in the context of this painful history, who cares!

The current lot play some decent cricket, but only in patches. They were just 40 runs away from glory in Brisbane and could have saved the game had they lasted 15 more overs at Melbourne, and a session in Sydney. But that should not be allowed to cloud the larger view that Pakistan lost the last two games because they didn’t have the mental strength to perform under pressure.

Since it rained in both the games, the players thought the weather had intervened long enough to prevent any result. They were caught like rabbits facing the headlights of a car about to run it over. Clueless and frozen in the moment.
The tradition that started back in 1999 under Wasim Akram continued with another whitewash Down Under. In many ways, Australia represents Pakistan cricket’s last frontier

Shot selection, especially premeditated sweeps and inexplicable reverse sweeps, was only one reflection of it. What were they doing, or trying to do, in the context of the game at those particular points in time is difficult to say except to take it as an indication of people losing their head.

Add to it the five run-outs that Pakistan inflicted on itself in the series. It was like sealing their own fate. Let’s take a look. Azhar Ali ran himself out at a personal score of 71 in the first innings of Sydney when Pakistan had just about stabilised itself through a partnership between Azhar and Younis Khan. The wicket provided a foot in the door for the Australians who converted it into a floodgate. No one beyond that point scored more than 18 runs. In the second innings, while desperately trying to save the game with a session to go, Amir was run-out. He had till then faced about 20 balls and, as in Brisbane, could have faced many more, but didn’t … couldn’t.

In Melbourne, Sohail was run-out for 65 as the tail-ender was making merry with a tiring attack that would have stood demoralised even more. Of more importance is the fact that Pakistan could have consumed a bit more time in the middle that would have come handy in the final equation. Pakistan lost the game they could have saved had they lasted an additional hour on the final day.

In Sydney, it was Rahat who committed hara-kiri. The last wicket had added 21 runs by then which was a lot in the context of the 142-run team outing. Sarfaraz Ahmad was doing fine at the other end. They just needed to extend it even if it were by a single run. They couldn’t.

In the second innings, chasing a record 489 for a tie, they were 40 short when Asad Shafiq fell. Yasir Shah had done well to be on 33 off 66 balls. He was not expected to score all of those 40 runs, but he could have stuck around. Stranger things have happened in cricket. But the Pakistani passion for shooting themselves in the foot got the better of him and he was run-out while not even attempting a run.

The running thread across all these run-outs was a lack of professionalism and Pakistan was a pretty deserving loser in the end.

The biggest loser in the current loss arguably happens to be John Michael ‘Mickey’ Arthur, the coach. He could not have been more wrong in doing or saying anything that he did. It reflected pretty poorly on how little knowledge or understanding he has of the bunch under his charge.

He famously remarked ahead of the series that if the batsmen could put up 300 runs on the board, the bowlers will take care of the rest. As it happened, Pakistan scored 450 in Brisbane, 443/9 in Melbourne and 315 in Sydney. Even the average total across Pakistan’s six innings on the tour was 293; just seven runs short of the magical number Mickey had talked about. Yet, victory does not look like a word that would have been discussed — even uttered — in the Pakistani dressing room often enough.
Sami Aslam dropping a catch in Melbourne

While the batsmen didn’t exactly wrap themselves in glory, it was their bowling counterparts, who were supposed to “take care of the rest”, who let the team down big time. Of the 60 wickets on offer, Pakistan could take only 33, or 55 percent. In contrast, Australia claimed 59 (98.3 percent).

Of the 478 overs bowled by Pakistan, Yasir delivered 148 (31 percent) while conceding a world record 672 (33 percent) runs and taking just eight (24 percent) of the Australian wickets. In contrast, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir bowled 100 (21 percent) and 96 (20 percent) overs for 11 (33.3 percent) and five (15 percent) wickets, respectively. The other three frontline bowlers — Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali and Imran Khan — together bowled 96 (20 percent) overs for seven (21 percent) wickets.

Only Wahab emerged as a bowler with any degree of respect still intact. The workload clearly left Yasir as a stock bowler filling up time for the rest rather than an attacking spinner, indicating the failure of the team management to understand who was supposed to do what.

Among the Australians, Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc both bowled almost the same number of overs as did Yasir; 147 and 145, respectively, claiming 15 (25 percent) and 14 (24 percent) wickets while conceding 294 (17 percent) and 477 (27 percent) of the runs scored by Pakistan.

The apparent statistical incongruity in Yasir’s workload versus that of Hazelwood and Starc in terms of percentage is there because Pakistan played more overs — 570.4 — than Australia’s 478.1.

And yet, Pakistan scored 1,757 runs against Australia’s series total of 2,034. You just have to recall the shattering blows Australia inflicted while piling up 202/5 in 39 overs (run rate: 5.17) in Brisbane, and 241/2 in 32 overs (run rate: 7.53) in Sydney to rationalise the anomaly. Pakistan just stood butchered by the end of the series. Hopefully Mickey Arthur will have a more realistic wish list when he leads his charges next.

courtesy : dawn news



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