Tougher challenge now

November 17, 2019

Can Pakistan end their losing streak in Tests in Australia?

After the Twenty20 series loss, another tough challenge is ahead for Pakistan team in the Test series. Despite a good show in the warm-up game, there should not be any illusion as Pakistani cricket team’s failures in Australia are well known.

Pakistan have lost 12 successive Tests in Australia: three each in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2017. Pakistan have won only four Tests in Australia out of 35.

Wasim Akram-led Pakistan were whitewashed during the tour of Australia in 1999-2000. Inzamam-ul-Haq was the captain in 2004-05. In 2009-10, Mohammad Yousuf was the leader when Pakistan faced the third consecutive whitewash in Australia.

In 2017, Misbah-ul-Haq-led Pakistan were whitewashed despite creditable performances from Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq and presence of Younis Khan. Pakistan were unable to pick up all 20 Australian wickets in any of the three Tests during the tour.

Fortunately, Pakistan under Sarfraz Ahmed won the last home series played in the UAE by 1-0. Australia survived the first Test at Abu Dhabi, but Pakistan won the second Test, also played at Abu Dhabi, by a huge margin of 373 runs. Fast bowler Mohammad Abbas took five wickets in both innings and received the Man-of-the-Match and Player-of-the-series awards.

Abbas has played 14 Tests and taken 66 wickets at an average of 18.86. He could again create problems for the Aussies batsmen with his accurate line, length and swing bowling. In his short career, he has taken five wickets in an innings four times and 10 wickets in a Test once.

Pakistan skipper Azhar believes Australian condition will favour fast-bowlers and his compatriot pacers have the ability to trouble the hosts. He is one of the most experienced players in the side.

Since 2000, Pakistan have had 15 coaches, including Javed Miandad, Richard Pybus, Intikhab Alam and Waqar Younis, who served more than once.

After losing two consecutive T20 series against Sri Lanka and Australia, it’s a chance for new Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq to prove his appointment right.

Records showed that most of Pakistan’s famous victories, especially against any major teams, came either by a narrow margin or by the heroic efforts of some outstanding individuals.

The Aussies look too hot to handle for Pakistani bowlers, especially the top order that has Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith.

If Azhar wants to create history in Australia, it’s important his batsmen post 400 plus score on the board so that bowlers can bowl according to their plan.

In the absence of Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali, responsibilities will be on Mohammad Abbas, Imran Khan Senior and Shaheen Afridi’s shoulders.

Bowling coach Waqar Younis has the responsibility to teach our fast bowlers the skill of swinging the new ball for which he was known in his playing days. Our pacers only bowl fast and short. The era of yorkers seems to have ended with the careers of Wasim and Waqar.

The two Ws got lots of wickets with their lethal yorkers, especially against the tail-enders.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s performance will be crucial to his side’s success in the series and if he finds rhythm on his day he could be the game changer.

Smith is the highest run-getter in Tests in 2019 so far. He scored 774 runs in just four Tests, with three hundred and three fifties in seven innings. He could be the most dangerous batsman for Pakistan.

A total of 64 Test matches have been played between Pakistan and Australia so far. The Aussies have a clear edge with 31 wins. The Green-shirts remained successful on 15 occasions.

Former captain Javed Miandad is the most successful batsman in Tests played between the two nations with 1797 runs in 25 Tests between the two nations. He averaged 47.28, scoring six centuries and seven fifties.

Allan Border scored 1666 runs in 22 matches for Australia at an average of 59.50, hitting six hundred and eight half-centuries.

Former Australian skipper Mark Taylor played the longest innings — 334 not out in Peshawar in 1998. Saleem Malik’s 237 in Rawalpindi in 1994 has been the highest individual score from Pakistan.

Saleem Malik’s 557 is also the highest score in a three-Test series, which he accumulated in the 1994-95 series in Pakistan. Graham Yallop scored 554 runs for Australia in the 1983-84 series. But that series consisted of five matches.

On Australian soil, Azhar Ali was the first Pakistan batsman to score 400 runs in a series, in Australia in 2017. He raced past Mohsin Khan’s 390 in 1983-84. He also became the first Pakistan double-centurion down under.

Former spin great Shane Warne took 90 wickets in 15 Tests against Pakistan, averaging 20.17. Former captain Imran Khan is on top from Pakistan with 64 wickets at an average of 24.96.

Greg Chappell, Kim Hughes and Mark Taylor led Australia in 9 Tests each against Pakistan. Javed Miandad led Pakistan 9 times against the Aussies.

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Tougher challenge now: Can Pakistan end their losing streak in Tests in Australia?