Australia vs Pakistan Test Series Review : Pakistan land punches but fail to deliver the knockout blow

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In his detailed and insightful review of the recently concluded 3-match Test series, @Markhor analyses the exact areas of shortcomings for Pakistan and concludes that the 2023/24 tour was perhaps the most competitive one since 1999.


gH4Dyua.jpg


After a poor World Cup and incessant off-field turmoil, the Benaud-Qadir Trophy was set to be one of the biggest mismatches in Test history. The result, 3-0 to Australia, surprises few. However, the margin masks the most competitive Australia-Pakistan series since 1999 with the tourists ultimately felled by old ailments.

Bowling

Pakistan’s bowlers took a severe hammering in 2016 and 2019 in Australia. At 89.92 runs per wicket, they produced the worst ever series bowling performance in their Test history in 2019. Assisted by friendlier conditions, Pakistan this time consistently hit good areas and put Australia’s batsmen under prolonged spells of pressure after an erratic start in Perth.

Much talk persisted about Pakistan’s lack of speed, but people ought to remember quicker Pakistani attacks have been smashed by Australia and pace is useless without control. Overall Pakistan produced their best series bowling performance in Australia since 1995 with their slip fielders to blame for not further climbing the table below.

TourBowling AverageRPO
1995-9629.892.88
1978-7931.542.61
1981-8232.702.63
1989-9035.692.67
2023-2436.783.50
1976-7738.003.20
2009-1041.843.42

Fielding

Pakistan’s slip fielding wouldn’t look out of place in a comedy sketch. Abdullah Shafique gave fans flashbacks to Kamran Akmal’s Sydney horror show in 2010 by dropping two dollies in Melbourne with the costliest during Australia’s 2nd innings when they teetered at 46-4. Saim Ayub joined the club by grassing a sitter in Sydney.

Pakistan’s slip catch percentage is amongst the lowest in the world. That spells trouble when touring Australia where most wickets are taken behind the stumps, i.e. edges to keeper and slips. As with most of Pakistan’s ills, the root cause is FC cricket. Due to low, slow pitches – few chances even carry to slip thus denying youngsters the opportunity to develop their skills.

What’s inexcusable was the lack of a fixed slip cordon. Babar Azam and Agha Salman are Pakistan’s two best slippers, yet the cordon was a revolving door of butterfingered fielders.

Batting

Pakistan produced their worst series batting performance in Australia since 1995 with Mohammad Rizwan the sole batsman averaging above 40. Were the conditions challenging ? Yes. Were they facing a world-class attack who bowled some peaches ? Unquestionably. However, Pakistan reached favourable positions in all three Tests before self-destructing.

123-1 became 195-6 in Perth. 124-1 and 110-2 became 170-6 and 237 all out in Melbourne. 58-2 became 67-7 in Sydney.

The two biggest disappointments were Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel. If batting was judged by aesthetics, both pass with flying colours. Yet tour averages of 21 and 15 highlighted serious technical weaknesses outside Asia. Where Saud has leeway at the infancy of his Test career – the former captain does not.

If Babar wishes to be remembered amongst Pakistan’s greats, he must produce substantive innings outside the subcontinent. Possessing only one Test hundred outside Asia and an away average (36.86) that’s nearly half of his home record (71), Babar is developing a reputation as a Flat Track Bully.

TourBatting Average
1995-9621.32
2023-2421.48
2004-0523.06
2009-1024.80
1989-9026.24
1981-8227.75
2019-2027.90

Positives

Where else to start but Aamer Jamal ? Possessing great character and no shortage of skill, Jamal produced the best all-rounder display by a Pakistani in Australia since Wasim Akram in 1989-90. Two 5-fers and an entertaining 82 where he took on the short ball and propelled Pakistan to a 1st innings lead in Sydney ensures his place in the team. While Jamal’s expensive economy shows further finetuning is necessary, Pakistan can now move on from its failed investment in Faheem Ashraf.

Shan Masood faced a verbal bouncer barrage about the merit of his appointment as captain with his mediocre Test record. Despite two flamboyant fifties, a failure to convert those starts means those criticisms won’t fade any time soon. However, his captaincy was thoughtful and intelligent with some creative field placings that made refreshing change from previous Pakistani skippers in Australia.

Agha Salman only took 3 wickets, but his tight economy allowed the pacers to rotate from the other end – and two gritty fifties showed a cricketer not unnerved by adversity.

Mir Hamza and Khurram Shehzad demonstrated the importance of selecting players who’ve experienced the grind of FC cricket. It was evident not just by their numbers but their setting up of batsmen. New team director Mohammad Hafeez and new chief selector Wahab Riaz must continue prioritising domestic performances over “Hail Mary” fast-tracks of raw kids.

Verdict

Pakistan competed better than England and South Africa in the last two Australian summers. However, their inability to pull all facets of their game together is why Pakistan are now 0-17 down under drawing comparisons to the scripted streak of retired wrestler “The Undertaker”. Unlike that streak, Pakistan’s dropped catches, batting collapses and loss of bowlers to injuries is seemingly a story without an end.
 
Last edited:
Many thanks to @Markhor for his excellent and insightful series review.

After a poor World Cup and incessant off-field turmoil, the Benaud-Qadir Trophy was set to be one of the biggest mismatches in Test history. The result, 3-0 to Australia, surprises few. However, the margin masks the most competitive Australia-Pakistan series since 1999 with the tourists ultimately felled by old ailments.

Bowling

Pakistan’s bowlers took a severe hammering in 2016 and 2019 in Australia. At 89.92 runs per wicket, they produced the worst ever series bowling performance in their Test history in 2019. Assisted by friendlier conditions, Pakistan this time consistently hit good areas and put Australia’s batsmen under prolonged spells of pressure after an erratic start in Perth.

Much talk persisted about Pakistan’s lack of speed, but people ought to remember quicker Pakistani attacks have been smashed by Australia and pace is useless without control. Overall Pakistan produced their best series bowling performance in Australia since 1995 with their slip fielders to blame for not further climbing the table below.

TourBowling AverageRPO
1995-9629.892.88
1978-7931.542.61
1981-8232.702.63
1989-9035.692.67
2023-2436.783.50
1976-7738.003.20
2009-1041.843.42

Fielding

Pakistan’s slip fielding wouldn’t look out of place in a comedy sketch. Abdullah Shafique gave fans flashbacks to Kamran Akmal’s Sydney horror show in 2010 by dropping two dollies in Melbourne with the costliest during Australia’s 2nd innings when they teetered at 46-4. Saim Ayub joined the club by grassing a sitter in Sydney.

Pakistan’s slip catch percentage is amongst the lowest in the world. That spells trouble when touring Australia where most wickets are taken behind the stumps, i.e. edges to keeper and slips. As with most of Pakistan’s ills, the root cause is FC cricket. Due to low, slow pitches – few chances even carry to slip thus denying youngsters the opportunity to develop their skills.

What’s inexcusable was the lack of a fixed slip cordon. Babar Azam and Agha Salman are Pakistan’s two best slippers, yet the cordon was a revolving door of butterfingered fielders.

Batting

Pakistan produced their worst series batting performance in Australia since 1995 with Mohammad Rizwan the sole batsman averaging above 40. Were the conditions challenging ? Yes. Were they facing a world-class attack who bowled some peaches ? Unquestionably. However, Pakistan reached favourable positions in all three Tests before self-destructing.

123-1 became 195-6 in Perth. 124-1 and 110-2 became 170-6 and 237 all out in Melbourne. 58-2 became 67-7 in Sydney.

The two biggest disappointments were Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel. If batting was judged by aesthetics, both pass with flying colours. Yet tour averages of 21 and 15 highlighted serious technical weaknesses outside Asia. Where Saud has leeway at the infancy of his Test career – the former captain does not.

If Babar wishes to be remembered amongst Pakistan’s greats, he must produce substantive innings outside the subcontinent. Possessing only one Test hundred outside Asia and an away average (36.86) that’s nearly half of his home record (71), Babar is developing a reputation as a Flat Track Bully.

TourBatting Average
1995-9621.32
2023-2421.48
2004-0523.06
2009-1024.80
1989-9026.24
1981-8227.75
2019-2027.90

Positives

Where else to start but Aamer Jamal ? Possessing great character and no shortage of skill, Jamal produced the best all-rounder display by a Pakistani in Australia since Wasim Akram in 1989-90. Two 5-fers and an entertaining 82 where he took on the short ball and propelled Pakistan to a 1st innings lead in Sydney ensures his place in the team. While Jamal’s expensive economy shows further finetuning is necessary, Pakistan can now move on from its failed investment in Faheem Ashraf.

Shan Masood faced a verbal bouncer barrage about the merit of his appointment as captain with his mediocre Test record. Despite two flamboyant fifties, a failure to convert those starts means those criticisms won’t fade any time soon. However, his captaincy was thoughtful and intelligent with some creative field placings that made refreshing change from previous Pakistani skippers in Australia.

Agha Salman only took 3 wickets, but his tight economy allowed the pacers to rotate from the other end – and two gritty fifties showed a cricketer not unnerved by adversity.

Mir Hamza and Khurram Shehzad demonstrated the importance of selecting players who’ve experienced the grind of FC cricket. It was evident not just by their numbers but their setting up of batsmen. New team director Mohammad Hafeez and new chief selector Wahab Riaz must continue prioritising domestic performances over “Hail Mary” fast-tracks of raw kids.

Verdict

Pakistan competed better than England and South Africa in the last two Australian summers. However, their inability to pull all facets of their game together is why Pakistan are now 0-17 down under drawing comparisons to the scripted streak of retired wrestler “The Undertaker”. Unlike that streak, Pakistan’s dropped catches, batting collapses and loss of bowlers to injuries is seemingly a story without an end.

View attachment 141095
Pakistan had their best chance to deliver the knock out blow but as they saw the punch you remember after fight, you should throw it on your own face. Same could be said about Pakistan they were close but not clinical.
 
Abysmal pathetic, Pakistan as ever were outclassed in Australia there were a couple of moments screaming for a hero but Alas no one raised above.
 
Pretty poor as usual. A few pluses but overall poor. Shaans batting wasn't terrible but his captaincy was just as stale as Babars and at time worse. The selection was also pretty poor, are the likes of Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali and Sajid ever going to win a test against good teams. The decline of SSA has huge implications because he is potentially our only World class bowler and he looks a busted flush. Babars batting was poor and at no point did I feel he was booked in for an overnight stay.
I think this series should be the end of Imam, HA, Sajid and Hamza. Serious question marks over Abdullahs shot selection at crucial periods and Sauds inability to adjust to bouncier tracks
 
The biggest plus for me is the pace bowling stocks look best in a while

Naseem, Shaheen and Jamal should be front 3 with Khurram, Hamza and Waseem being a back up for three above also try to add Ihsanullah in the mix and you have 7 pacers ready to play test cricket at any time .

Rauf , Hasnain and Zaman should be limited to T 20 playing 80% of the games with the above 7 getting roatated and only playing World Cup however I don’t expect such planning from Pakistan and we will continue to play our best team in random bilaterals with B and C sides chasing the useless #1 ranking

Batting is mostly settled even if it severely under delivered . Shan should open and go bazball with Shafiq who should be persisted with Saim the back up opener , at 3 we need a more reliable player maybe get Ghulam in with Huraira as his back up. Babar should give up T 20 after June World Cup and focus on being a test great he can still end up with 8 K @48-50 with 20-22 hundreds securing his place in Pakistan elite test batters. Saud was very poor but I like him it’s his first SENA trip at any level so cut him some slack I think he’s a hard worker and will try to learn from his mistakes . Rizwan and Salman at 6 and 7 are solid and should do well

Over all we are capable of being 3-5 ranking test side if we can plan better and learn to take control of crunch moments
 
The biggest plus for me is the pace bowling stocks look best in a while

Naseem, Shaheen and Jamal should be front 3 with Khurram, Hamza and Waseem being a back up for three above also try to add Ihsanullah in the mix and you have 7 pacers ready to play test cricket at any time .

Rauf , Hasnain and Zaman should be limited to T 20 playing 80% of the games with the above 7 getting roatated and only playing World Cup however I don’t expect such planning from Pakistan and we will continue to play our best team in random bilaterals with B and C sides chasing the useless #1 ranking

Batting is mostly settled even if it severely under delivered . Shan should open and go bazball with Shafiq who should be persisted with Saim the back up opener , at 3 we need a more reliable player maybe get Ghulam in with Huraira as his back up. Babar should give up T 20 after June World Cup and focus on being a test great he can still end up with 8 K @48-50 with 20-22 hundreds securing his place in Pakistan elite test batters. Saud was very poor but I like him it’s his first SENA trip at any level so cut him some slack I think he’s a hard worker and will try to learn from his mistakes . Rizwan and Salman at 6 and 7 are solid and should do well

Over all we are capable of being 3-5 ranking test side if we can plan better and learn to take control of crunch moments
My worry about Saud is that he had a torrid time for Yorkshire in the County Championship last year so the concerns about him outside Asia predate this trip.

Goes without saying he's a gun for Asian conditions.
 
Australia's Captain Pat Cummins, speaking during the post-match press conference after securing the Test series against Pakistan by (3-0), he said:

"I thought it was a great series. I feel really happy that we got on the right side of a couple of tight moments, but it could have gone the other way also. I thought Pakistan was high quality. You know, Test cricket there's nothing harder than playing away from home; the conditions are always so different. But I thought they played really well. The MCG match could have almost gone either way, and if it wasn't for that 'Hour of Power' last night, it could have gone the other way as well. So, a great series, really well fought, and I thought it was played in great spirits too."
 
After a long time, Pakistan bowled reasonably well in Aus, but batting was a let down.

Having said that, Bowling did reasonably well when pitch was not flat so batting was not going to perform that well on same pitches.

Not taking catches was simply criminal. Biggest disappointment was Pakistan's top order. Simply folded without any fights every time.
 
My worry about Saud is that he had a torrid time for Yorkshire in the County Championship last year so the concerns about him outside Asia predate this trip.

Goes without saying he's a gun for Asian conditions.
Yeah jury is out but we need to remember PCB has not organised any A tours for these domestic batsman in years ,this was his first SENA assignment ever at any level so understandable he was found wanting will give him a South Africa tour later this year to make a final conclusion on his SENA adaptability .
It’s Babar the main culprit it’s his 3rd Aus tour he is at supposed peak at 29 has 50 tests under his belt and he gives a Yasir Hameed , Faisal Iqbal level out put
 
Pakistan missed out on a couple of really big moments in Tests 2 and 3. Another 5-10% in performance and experience from Pakistan, and they could have perhaps created winning or at least very challenging positions.

Pakistan also took 20 wickets in the 2nd Test which can be very difficult to do for a touring side in Australia, in any Test. Cummins basically carried Australia to victory in that match when Pakistan were looking good in the run chase.

Cummins was the main difference between the sides in general. There wasn’t much to speak of from the Australian bowlers aside from him. One good spell from Hazlewood at the end of the series. Lyon looked very average and innocuous most of the time to be honest - tail end wickets massaged his figures.

Yes it was a 3-0 loss but there are some positives. Emergence of some new players. And not beaten out of sight in humiliating fashion like Pakistan sometimes has been on these tours.
 
May be if Micky Arthur was there we may have pulled up a game, Hafeez has no experience as player, coach, director in Australia
 
May be if Micky Arthur was there we may have pulled up a game, Hafeez has no experience as player, coach, director in Australia

I feel that those dropped catches were the main issue - we could have been discussing something else.
 
This was the first time in last 3 Australian tours, that our team showed some sort of fight. Before that, we were just there to participate. Not a big achievement, but it would help the bowlers know that they can take 20 wickets in Australia and spinners (Agha especially) that you need to bowl at a consistent channel to be successful as a spinner in Australia and complement your pacers.
 
This was the first time in last 3 Australian tours, that our team showed some sort of fight. Before that, we were just there to participate. Not a big achievement, but it would help the bowlers know that they can take 20 wickets in Australia and spinners (Agha especially) that you need to bowl at a consistent channel to be successful as a spinner in Australia and complement your pacers.
Yep not the results exactly that we were looking for but still not an ignominous performance as it used to be in past years. I guess if our catching & folding had been fine we certainly would have won atleast one match.
 
In at least two test matches Pakistan dominated but a lack of confidence and self belief stopped them from getting the job done
 
Pakistan did better in this tour than some of their previous tours.

Last time they were this competitive was during 2010 Aussie tour.

Bowling was quite good. Aamer Jamal was amazing.
 
In his detailed and insightful review of the recently concluded 3-match Test series, @Markhor analyses the exact areas of shortcomings for Pakistan and concludes that the 2023/24 tour was perhaps the most competitive one since 1999.


gH4Dyua.jpg


After a poor World Cup and incessant off-field turmoil, the Benaud-Qadir Trophy was set to be one of the biggest mismatches in Test history. The result, 3-0 to Australia, surprises few. However, the margin masks the most competitive Australia-Pakistan series since 1999 with the tourists ultimately felled by old ailments.

Bowling

Pakistan’s bowlers took a severe hammering in 2016 and 2019 in Australia. At 89.92 runs per wicket, they produced the worst ever series bowling performance in their Test history in 2019. Assisted by friendlier conditions, Pakistan this time consistently hit good areas and put Australia’s batsmen under prolonged spells of pressure after an erratic start in Perth.

Much talk persisted about Pakistan’s lack of speed, but people ought to remember quicker Pakistani attacks have been smashed by Australia and pace is useless without control. Overall Pakistan produced their best series bowling performance in Australia since 1995 with their slip fielders to blame for not further climbing the table below.

TourBowling AverageRPO
1995-9629.892.88
1978-7931.542.61
1981-8232.702.63
1989-9035.692.67
2023-2436.783.50
1976-7738.003.20
2009-1041.843.42

Fielding

Pakistan’s slip fielding wouldn’t look out of place in a comedy sketch. Abdullah Shafique gave fans flashbacks to Kamran Akmal’s Sydney horror show in 2010 by dropping two dollies in Melbourne with the costliest during Australia’s 2nd innings when they teetered at 46-4. Saim Ayub joined the club by grassing a sitter in Sydney.

Pakistan’s slip catch percentage is amongst the lowest in the world. That spells trouble when touring Australia where most wickets are taken behind the stumps, i.e. edges to keeper and slips. As with most of Pakistan’s ills, the root cause is FC cricket. Due to low, slow pitches – few chances even carry to slip thus denying youngsters the opportunity to develop their skills.

What’s inexcusable was the lack of a fixed slip cordon. Babar Azam and Agha Salman are Pakistan’s two best slippers, yet the cordon was a revolving door of butterfingered fielders.

Batting

Pakistan produced their worst series batting performance in Australia since 1995 with Mohammad Rizwan the sole batsman averaging above 40. Were the conditions challenging ? Yes. Were they facing a world-class attack who bowled some peaches ? Unquestionably. However, Pakistan reached favourable positions in all three Tests before self-destructing.

123-1 became 195-6 in Perth. 124-1 and 110-2 became 170-6 and 237 all out in Melbourne. 58-2 became 67-7 in Sydney.

The two biggest disappointments were Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel. If batting was judged by aesthetics, both pass with flying colours. Yet tour averages of 21 and 15 highlighted serious technical weaknesses outside Asia. Where Saud has leeway at the infancy of his Test career – the former captain does not.

If Babar wishes to be remembered amongst Pakistan’s greats, he must produce substantive innings outside the subcontinent. Possessing only one Test hundred outside Asia and an away average (36.86) that’s nearly half of his home record (71), Babar is developing a reputation as a Flat Track Bully.

TourBatting Average
1995-9621.32
2023-2421.48
2004-0523.06
2009-1024.80
1989-9026.24
1981-8227.75
2019-2027.90

Positives

Where else to start but Aamer Jamal ? Possessing great character and no shortage of skill, Jamal produced the best all-rounder display by a Pakistani in Australia since Wasim Akram in 1989-90. Two 5-fers and an entertaining 82 where he took on the short ball and propelled Pakistan to a 1st innings lead in Sydney ensures his place in the team. While Jamal’s expensive economy shows further finetuning is necessary, Pakistan can now move on from its failed investment in Faheem Ashraf.

Shan Masood faced a verbal bouncer barrage about the merit of his appointment as captain with his mediocre Test record. Despite two flamboyant fifties, a failure to convert those starts means those criticisms won’t fade any time soon. However, his captaincy was thoughtful and intelligent with some creative field placings that made refreshing change from previous Pakistani skippers in Australia.

Agha Salman only took 3 wickets, but his tight economy allowed the pacers to rotate from the other end – and two gritty fifties showed a cricketer not unnerved by adversity.

Mir Hamza and Khurram Shehzad demonstrated the importance of selecting players who’ve experienced the grind of FC cricket. It was evident not just by their numbers but their setting up of batsmen. New team director Mohammad Hafeez and new chief selector Wahab Riaz must continue prioritising domestic performances over “Hail Mary” fast-tracks of raw kids.

Verdict

Pakistan competed better than England and South Africa in the last two Australian summers. However, their inability to pull all facets of their game together is why Pakistan are now 0-17 down under drawing comparisons to the scripted streak of retired wrestler “The Undertaker”. Unlike that streak, Pakistan’s dropped catches, batting collapses and loss of bowlers to injuries is seemingly a story without an end.
This was really good post series analysis, well done @Markhor. I would also like to propose that Sarfraz needs to be dropped from the international team and Haseebullah needs to be blooded in the national team in the test squad. Its about time we move on.
 
Some more food for thought

==

SEN Cricket’s Damien Fleming has put Pakistan under the blowtorch for some questionable decisions with the ball during the Tour of Australia and specifically on Day Four of the Sydney Test.

Pakistan was faced with the nearly impossible challenge of holding Australia to less than 130 runs to secure an improbable victory in the final Test of the series.

With the odds stacked against them, Pakistan decided against giving the new ball to the in-form Aamir Jamal, much to the surprise of many.

Besides a wicket in the opening over, the opening combination of Sajid Khan and Mir Hamza struggled to contain the Aussie batters and quickly conceded defeat.

Despite taking six wickets in the earlier inning, Jamal wasn’t given a crack until the 18th over when the game was all but decided in the favour of the hosts.

The decision, along with a handful of more questionable choices throughout the three-game series led Fleming to dissect the overall performance from the tourists this summer.

“Bizarre tactics though (from) Pakistan,” Fleming said on SEN Cricket.

“We’ll look back and go, ‘Gee they had a good crack at this series’, particularly (at) the MCG, if they caught better and controlled their extras.

“How Jamal didn’t open the bowling in this second innings, I want to know why.

“He hasn’t bowled with the ball at all in the whole series…. And Salman (Ali Agha) is their best spinning option, it’s bizarre.”

When proposed with a theory that Pakistan and or Jamal may have been saving the fast bowler for the upcoming T20 series with New Zealand, Fleming replied: “Do you reckon? Surely not.”

“He hasn’t opened the bowling throughout, he should’ve at least gotten the second new ball in the first innings.

“But he’s so much clearly the fastest and bounciest… I didn't mind Hamza opening with him but straight it’s Salman.

“Absolutely bizarre.”

Pakistan starts a five-match T20 series with the Black Caps on January 12th.

SEN Radio
 
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