Pakistan miserably failed to capitalise on a huge advantage in the opening Test
Usually, teams are happy when a Test match against one of the best sides in the world ends in a draw but that isn’t the case with Pakistan who snatched a draw from the jaws of a likely win in Dubai last week against Australia. Not many teams have ended a match without a victory after scoring 482 runs in the first innings and then dismissing the opponents for 202 runs but with Pakistan, the impossible is always possible. There were many issues with the team that went into the ground as well as some mistakes made by the captain, but one hopes that they learn from these mistakes ahead of the second and final Test of the series, from Tuesday.
Play it like a Test!
Pakistan cricket fans were over the moon when their team managed to score as many as 482 runs in their first innings but the wicket was as dead as dead could be, the Australians had a great start too until Bilal Asif weaved his magic and took 6 wickets to stop their reply at 202. However, instead of making the hapless visitors bat again on a pitch they had no idea about, against a bowling attack they were scared of and in conditions that were alien to them, Pakistan’s defensive captain Sarfraz chose to bat again and managed to declare their second innings at 181 runs for the loss of 6 wickets, setting a target of 461 runs for the Aussies to win. Had the follow-on been enforced, had the bowlers continued to bowl in their rhythm, had the clueless crusaders from Down Under remained clueless, who knows Pakistan might have had ended the match with one nil lead, but since Pakistanis had other issues to deal with, the match ended in a draw against a side that doesn’t falter after one chance – talking about the Aussies here!
Selecting the wrong leftie!
Despite the 4-wicket reminder (against the Bangladesh) that he is the best pacer in the country, despite his exceptional record in the United Arab Emirates, despite his brilliance when the going gets tough, the selectors chose to drop Junaid Khan in favor of a once-upon-a-time pacer Wahab Riaz who all knew will end wicketless, bowl clueless and look hopeless against Australia. In his decade-long career, Wahab has just bowled one fiery spell against India in 2011 and one against Australia in 2015, both in losing battles and justified his selection once, when he was dropped from the side by coach Mickey Arthur for absolutely doing nothing in international cricket. His presence on the other end was the main reason why Mohammad Abbas failed to take a wicket on the final day as the Aussies chose to see him off and score runs off his weaker bowling partner. Had there been Junaid Khan in the side or even a half-fit Mohammad Amir, trust me, the result might have been different as they have won matches for their country from impossible situations. Wahab, on the other hand, disappoints every time he gets to represent the national side and its about time that losers like him are shown the exit door, for good.
Taking opponents lightly!
Why did the Pakistani bowlers take their opponents lightly on the final day remains a mystery, especially when the curator had forecast that the wicket will favour the bowlers on the last day. Most of the Australians had less experience of Test cricket than Pakistan where there was only one debutant, even then they bowled to finish the day than to take wickets. The team should have gone for the kill but they didn’t and that’s why Australia managed to crawl back into the match from a hopeless position, facing the same bowlers with ease who had destroyed them a couple of days earlier.
Selecting the selectable!
You don’t win matches when you select players on your mood; Babar Azam is a wonderful limited overs cricketer but after Usman Salahuddin had impressed in England, he shouldn’t have been dropped in his next match, especially when Babar wasn’t able to score more than Usman’s second-innings 33 in two innings! Also, the selector’s continued rejection of Fawad Alam and Junaid Khan will have long-lasting effects on Pakistan side especially when undeserving Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz are continuously selected despite being declared failures in all three formats. One hopes that history doesn’t repeat itself because Pakistan needed Abdur Razzaq the most after he was unceremoniously dropped, failed miserably when Younis Khan was banned for no reason and couldn’t dismiss opponents when Shoaib Akhtar was ignored for saying his mind.