Five talking points from Pakistan’s series win against Australia

The Green Caps registered comfortable 373–run win to seal two-match series 1-0

Five talking points from Pakistan’s series win against Australia PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/@ICC

Pakistan registered a comfortable 373–run win in the second Test against Australia to clinch the two-match series 1-0 in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The match had many ups and downs, where the Men in Green registered a dominating win after losing five wickets in the first session of the match.

We highlight five talking points from the game where Mohammad Abbas, Fakhar Zaman and Sarfraz Ahmed made Australia surrender in the heat of Abu Dhabi.

1: Sarfraz – the leader Pakistan need

Sarfraz Ahmed is famous for his fighting spirit but for some reason, that spark was missing in the last month or so, especially in the Asia Cup.

In that event, Sarfraz himself looked exhausted, and in result, with the team looking short of ideas which resulted in an embarrassing exit after suffering a defeat against Bangladesh.

The trend continued in the first Test of this series as well where his defensive or rather conservative captaincy cost the team a victory which looked certain at one stage.

However, as great players do, they rise from the ashes to show their true colours, and Sarfraz did just that.

On the first morning of the second Test, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, the wicketkeeper-batsman came to the crease when the team was reduced to 57-5 from 57-1 in the space of six deliveries.

But the Karachi-born changed the complexion of the match with a stunning 94, which played a massive role in helping the Men in Green in registering a competitive total of 282 in the first innings.

Such was the authority of Sarfraz while batting that he made things easy for debutant Fakhar Zaman as well.

From there on, Sarfraz never looked like a captain who was unsure of anything as his decision making was spot on, field placing was great and everything once again started progressing smoothly for Pakistan.

It was perhaps the kind of performance which should remind his critics that he is still the same Sarfraz who won us the Champions Trophy in 2017, the same Sarfraz who played match-winning innings in the ICC World Cup in 2015 against South Africa, and the same Sarfraz who is the right man to lead the team in all formats.

2: Abbas – Best in the format?

Mohammad Abbas rise as the bowler of substantial value is stellar to say the least. The pacer was nowhere to be seen just 18 months back but is now becoming one of the leading bowlers in the game. The right-arm pacer once again showed his class in the match and became the first Pakistan fast-bowler in 12 years to claim 10 wickets in a match.

His immaculate line and length and ability to seam the bowl in and out at will make him a real threat for any opposition in any conditions. Such is his accuracy that he is getting plaudits from current and former players all over the world, which shows that he is well on track of becoming the best fast-bowler in the five-day format.

3: Azhar’s form – a real concern

Azhar Ali is one of Pakistan’s most dependable players in the Test format, and not just now but for a very long time. However, his form recently is a real cause of concern for the team management as he is not converting his starts into something substantial for the team. Even though the veteran right-hander scored a fighting half-century in the second innings of the match, but even then has an average of just 17.40 in the calendar year in 10 innings.

With Pakistan set to play at least five Tests before the end of the year, the team management will hope that their most senior batsman will start producing runs with the bat.

4: Mir Hamza – impressive to say the least

Mir Hamza became the third Pakistan player to debut in the series and his performance was largely impressive. The left-armer replaced veteran Wahab Riaz for the match and even though he only managed to claim just one wicket for the team, he showed a lot of promise during his spells.

The most impressive aspect of Hamza’s performance was the kind of control he gave to the captain, which is valuable considering the fact that Mohammad Abbas flourishes in circumstances where the other bowler puts some pressure as well from the other end. Next up for Pakistan will be New Zealand in the five-day format, where it will be interesting to see if Hamza will be given a chance to show his real colours, once again.

5: What’s next for Australia?

Australia came into the series with having arguably the weakest team they could possibly have and a draw in the opening Test was considered nothing less than a victory for the visitors. But the way Kangaroos capitulated after having Pakistan on the ropes in the first session would be extremely disappointing for the team management.

Next up for the Kangaroos will be India in the five-day format at home and it will be interesting to see whether they can pull off victory against one of the toughest oppositions in the game.