Learned, Liked & Disliked: First Test – Pakistan v Australia

Who saw this finish after the carnage of Day 3?

Set an unlikely 462 for victory Australia, putting aside their calamitous Day 3 collapse which saw them lose 10-60, successfully navigated their way through 140 overs to secure a famous draw. It represents the longest Australia has ever batted in a fourth innings to save a test and came on the back of spirited innings from Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Tim Paine.

It is a result that will embolden the Aussies after being dominated for the first four days of the match. For Pakistan it will be a galling missed opportunity that they will need to regroup from with the series now a winner takes all affair next week in Abu Dhabi.


Knee Jerk Reaction

  1. Nothing beats the drama of a tight last day finish of a Test Match.
  2. Some draws feel like a win.
  3. Sometimes you need to enforce the follow on.
  4. Shaun Marsh may not be an ‘Asian Specialist’ after all.
  5. Matt Renshaw may find it difficult to reclaim his opening position.

LEARNED

Khawaja

Learned: Khawaja’s no home track bully.

Usman Khamwaja’s record in Asia has been far from stellar prior to this Test Match having lost his place in the Australian team on the last few trips to the region. As a result, the 31-year-old had picked up the unwanted reputation of being a home track bully who greedily feasted in Australian conditions but unable to replicate his feats on foreign shores.

His man of the match performance in this Test may well go a long way to dispelling this unwanted reputation. Khawaja was on the field for all but bar 35 overs of the match with his 85 and an epic 141 the backbone of both of Australia’s innings as they clung on for a draw. One Test doesn’t make a summer but Khawaja’s performance in Dubai has all the hallmarks of a career defining moment.


Paine

Learned: Tim Paine may be just the leader this team needs.

It is kind of hard to believe but this time last year Tim Paine was Tasmania’s second string wicket-keeper and seriously contemplating a career after cricket. Thrust into the captaincy in the aftermath of sandpaper-gate, Paine was left with the unenviable responsibility of making an understrength Australian team competitive.

After the team’s first innings capitulation there were many might have opinioned it a task beyond even the most experienced captain let alone a man in just his 14th Test. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we were treated to an insight into the character of the Aussie skipper in the second innings when he came to the pitch with plenty left to be done to save the match.

Combining first with Usman Khawaja then later with Nathan Lyon, Paine willed Australia to famous draw in a three and a half hour stay at the crease in which he scored 61 runs from 194 balls. If he can continue to lead from the front in this way he might just be the man to see Australia out of the dark period it has found itself in.


LIKED

Peter Siddle

Liked: The Return of the ‘People’s Vegan’

When Peter Siddle was left out of the Australian team after the First Test of the 2016-17 summer, it looked like we had seen the last of Australian Cricket’s favourite vegan at Test level. Yet Siddle never gave up hope and after toiling away at Shield level, injuries presented him with another chance to don the Baggy Green.

In conditions that were far from ideal for fast bowlers, Siddle was impressive in the First Innings taking three wickets. In doing so he moved past fellow Victorian Merv Hughes into 13th place on Australia’s Test Wicket taking list.


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Liked: Debutants have an impact

Australia welcomed three debutants to their team when they handed over Baggy Green Caps 453, 454 & 455 to Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne on Day 1. While there were some questioning voices (even our own) we were glad to see each of the new boys having an impact on the match.

Labuschagne didn’t have the best match with the bat but was able to influence the match with ball in hand and in the field. Aaron Finch partnered with Usman Khawaja for 142 and 87 run partnerships and became the first Australian to score a half century on debut in Asia. Travis Head began his Test Match career with a duck but was a vital cog in the Australia’s fighting second innings effort. Coming in after the fall of three quick wickets, Head scored 72 in a vital 132-run partnership with man of the match Khawaja.


DISLIKED

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Disliked: Australia’s First Innings Collapse

Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja put Australia in a strong position with a 142 run opening partnership in the first innings. Yet, in what has become an all to familiar story, a monumental batting collapse saw the innings closed with just another 60 runs added. What’s worse is that, with an unsettled middle order, there is no guarantee that we won’t see more collapses like this in the short to middle term.


1994 Prelim

Disliked: Three Metre DRS Madness

Deceived by a Nathan Lyon delivery Haris Sohail was struck on the front pad prompting a big appeal from the Aussies. The pleading of Lyon and his team was not enough to sway Umpire Richard Illingworth who adjudged Sohail not out. After a brief conference Tim Paine challenged the decision and received a bewildering DRS outcome.

Despite Hawkeye showing the delivery hitting the stumps, Umpire Illingworth’s decision couldn’t be overturned because Sohail was struck more than three metres from the stumps. The reasoning behind this decision apparently because of doubts over the precision of the Hawkeye system. On face value it is hard to fault the reasoning but, as we learned with a decision that involved Steve Smith at the WACA two summers ago, had Illingworth given Sohail out a challenge by Pakistan would be unsuccessful too.

This is absurd. What is the point of a Decision Review System when the decision being reviewed has that big an impact on the final outcome?


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