After very exciting first Test in Dubai Pakistan and Australia are all set to lock horns today in the second Test match in Abu Dhabi. Superb comeback in the second innings by Australia denied Pakistan a likely victory and drew the memorable match.
Arguably, this is the weakest Australian squad in recent years that is playing Pakistan’s home series. Because regular Australian captain Steven Smith and veteran opening batsman David Warner are facing one year ban and first choice fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood are also not available.
Prior to the series, it was being expected that Pakistan will comfortably bag the series as they are very familiar with the pitches in United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, Australian team usually finds it hard to deal with spin bowling while touring in Asian conditions. Despite a major collapse in the first innings, Kangaroos lost their ten wickets within 60 runs and could manage just 202; they were up for the mighty task to play 140-over on the fourth innings to save the match. Opening batsmen were very determined and provided vital fist-wicket stand; Australia again lost three wickets on the same score, 87, but continued to bat smoothly. Usman Khawaja played over 50-over alone and after surviving for more than three sessions lost his wicket. His 141-run innings was enough to give Australia hope for the great escape as they drew the match they were being expected to lose. Travis head and Australian skipper Tim Paine also played sensible innings and consumed enough deliveries to assure that series stay 0-0 at the end of first Test. Though it was a draw but it could be seen as victory for Australia, at least a moral victory.
Cricket pundits are appreciating efforts of Australia, but they are also very critical of the errors committed by Pakistani captain, Sarfraz Ahmed. He is under criticism because of his dull body language, defensive field settings, blunders in decision review system (DRS) as Pakistan didn’t take review twice that could have been wickets, slip-up in bowling rotations, missing chance of stumping and also unnecessarily shouting on players. His own performance with the bat is also under the radar. Under leadership of Sarfraz Pakistan had lost 2-0 from then low ranked Sri Lankan team in UAE, first time they lost in their adopted home in ten years.
Time is running out for skipper, the sooner he finds his mistakes the better, else critics have already given their nod in finding his alternative as team’s captain. In the most prestigious format of the game, that is Test cricket, Pakistan stands at number seven. It is hoped that team captain and coaching staff must have identified their mistakes in order to find the winning combination and planning.
Sarfraz Ahmed is facing serious criticism over his absurd captaincy decisions.