Once again, a battered Pakistan finish a Test series in Australia empty handed after a 220-run third Test thrashing on Saturday (January 7) completed another inglorious whitewash. Heading into the series, against a shaky and inexperienced Australian team, Pakistan appeared to have a genuine chance of ending a 20-year Test drought Down Under. There was even a belief, if their madcap talents harnessed, that Pakistan could win a coveted series in Australia for the first time.
Unfortunately for them, despite teasing at stages particularly during a herculean chase in the first Test in Brisbane, the end result was lopsided and an anti-climax. Pakistan’s vaunted bowling arsenal was toothless with spearhead Mohammad Amir running out of puff as the series progressed and Yasir Shah, their star legspinner, being treated with utter disdain by Australia’s swaggering batsmen.
Despite impressing with the bat, albeit aided by flat pitches, Pakistan crumbled when it mattered most during the final day in Melbourne where they should have been able to bat out for a draw. Instead, it meant the third Test became a dead rubber and, predictably, Pakistan weren’t able to muster the necessary fight with the match only making the distance because of prolonged rain during days three and four.
Speaking at the press conference after the Test, Misbah lamented the team’s batting capitulation on the final day at the MCG. “The last day of the MCG was the biggest disappointment of the tour and we (were) demoralised from that… could not recover,” he said. “Australia is not an easy place. I think our bowling is always our strength, but in this series we could not take 20 wickets in any Test match that’s why we were behind in every game.
“Normally, we say it is not easy for Asian batsmen to come here and score runs but mainly what I’ve seen it is difficult for any Asian team to come here and take 20 wickets in a Test. That’s an art and we could not do that,” he added. “That mainly cost us the series.”
An entire generation of Australian fans have only seen bumbling efforts from Pakistan, who have now lost an astounding 12 consecutive Tests Down Under, although the visitors deserve some pathos considering their scant visits. In peculiar scheduling, Pakistan have only played a measly nine Tests in Australia this millennium compared to England (20), India (16) and South Africa (15).
Prior to this series, Pakistan last played in Australia in 2009-10 and only had a handful of surviving players from back then. Undoubtedly, the daft scheduling has not helped Pakistan but Misbah believed more opportunities in Australia was required in some form.
“I think it is important for us to get experience in these conditions… that we tour more often in Australia and South Africa,” he said. “It has already been suggested that some of our players should be sent regularly to Australia through the academies… to play games here, practice in these conditions.
“Some of the guys who are in line and might be in the team in the next two-three years, they should be sent to South Africa and Australia for one or two months to play some games,” he added. “This is the only way we can improve otherwise if you are coming here after five or six years than half your team are touring for the first time. Whether it is a bowling or batting unit… you are going to struggle. These conditions are totally different to others.”
With Pakistan’s hoodoo extending for some time to come, Misbah said he doesn’t believe his team had grasped their most winnable opportunity in Australia of the past 20 years. “In ’99, when Pakistan came (to Australia), I think that was one of the strongest (Pakistani) teams ever, strongest bowling attack… so many superstars in the team, but even that time we lost (3-0 to Steve Waugh’s impregnable Australian team),” he said. “It is important (for Pakistan) to win in Australia, you need to get used to the conditions… your fitness plays an important role. In Australia, you need supreme fitness.”
Despite the disappointment, Misbah said the batting, led by redoubtable opener Azhar Ali, was a bright point and believed Pakistan could be highly competitive in the upcoming five-match One-Day International series against Australia.
“Overall, a lot of positives in the batting… (we had) new faces and a changed mindset,” he said. “We can do well… One-Day cricket suits us. It will be a young and exciting team.”