The world number two team were all at sea against an inexperienced but effective Pakistan spin attack and suffered a crushing 221-run defeat in the first Test in Dubai. It was their fifth consecutive flop against spinners in Asia after being routed 4-0 in India last year.
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, playing only his third Test, finished with seven wickets in the match as did debutant leggie Yasir Shah. Pakistan’s batsmen also had a field day. Veteran Younis Khan scored a century in each innings while Sarfraz Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad chipped in with hundreds.
Pakistan will maintain that spin pressure as they look to win their first Test series against Australia since beating them at home in 1994.
Australian captain Michael Clarke promised a fight back. “Any time we lose a game it breeds fire in our belly. We don’t like losing, Australians in general don’t like losing,” he said after Sunday’s defeat.
“We got outplayed and Pakistan deserve a lot of credit for the way they played over the whole five days. We know we can play a lot better and look forward to showing that in the second Test match.”
Australia’s top order of David Warner, who hit a hundred in the first Test, and Chris Rogers were steady. But the middle order, especially Clarke and Alex Doolan, failed in both innings.
Clarke was confident runs would come in the second Test. “I do have that confidence. We do have to find a way though,” said the Australian skipper, who was the highest run-scorer in Tests in 2013 with 1,093.
Australia have the option of bringing in Glenn Maxwell, who can also bowl off-spin, for either Mitchell Marsh or Doolan.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq warned his team not to be complacent against a tough Australian team. “We have to make sure that we remain focused,” said Misbah. “We often get lazy and lose focus but we can’t afford this against a tough opponent like Australia, so we must keep that focus and achieve an important series win.”
If Pakistan win 2-0 they will jump to number three in the Test rankings, and Misbah called this a strong incentive. “We have to keep in mind that if we win we achieve our first series win for so many years and also get into the top three,” he said.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Shan Masood, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Imran Khan, Ehsan Adil, Sarfraz Ahmed, Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Steven Smith, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Brad Haddin, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Steve O’Keefe, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner, Nathan Lyon.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (ENG), Nigel Llong (ENG), TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).