Cricket 2019/20: Second Test Review – Australia vs Pakistan

Adrian Meredith breaks down the key moments of the Second Test.

The first Test was one-sided, but at least David Warner got a century, which was important after his dry spell during the Ashes, while the in-form Labuschagne solidified his great Ashes form with his first ever Test century.

Warner: “Hold my beer”.

That was pretty much this test. More one-sided than the first Test, more Labuschagne and much more Warner. Labuschagne got to 162, as his test average ballooned to 53.52, to match his wonderful Ashes form, and, to be honest, his form in his first series in UAE against Pakistan was pretty good too. Sometimes there are tough series with tough averages, but to see him capitalise like this was wonderful. Labuschagne is a 50+ test batting average player. He is that quality.

But then there was Warner. Three. Hundred. And. Thirty. Five. It was too many. It was too much. It was like he had a point to prove and then some, and suddenly his test form in the Ashes has been swallowed up by this. 489 runs in 2 innings for 1 out makes up for 95 runs at 9.5 in the Ashes, to now have a combined 584 runs at 53.09 since his return from the year-long ban, and all of a sudden we can say that he is an all-formats player with good form in all three formats.

The rest didn’t really matter. Joe Burns was out for four but nobody cared. Steve Smith only managed 36, a low score by his standard. Matthew Wade continued to look impressive with 38 not out and may have got a half-century or even a century. Poor Travis Head, who needed a good innings to keep his spot in the side, didn’t even get to bat. Oh and David Warner didn’t get to have a crack at either the Australian record of 380 or the world record of 400. Bad luck to him. Paine wanted to maximise the chances of a test victory.

In the end, had Paine given Warner another hour, or even two, Australia probably still would have won, but it would have gone into Day five. Maybe Warner would have gotten 400. Maybe Wade would have got a half-century. Maybe Travis Head would have had a chance to fight for his spot. But the team comes ahead of the individual, and Warner had to cope with 335 not out, declared on before he can get the record. Not that he minded.

Mohammad Abbas, the one major omission from the first test, came back, and was ineffective, getting to his century without taking a wicket. Shaheen Afridi was great, taking all 3 wickets to fall. Mohammad Musa, on debut, was disappointing. Not even Yasir Shah could take a wicket. The early wicket of Joe Burns raised excitement, but then Warner and Labuschagne quickly ruined the match as a contest, and the prospect of world number one Steve Smith coming in once one of them got out was too much.

Facing such a huge target, Pakistan failed to put up a real fight. Babar Azam got to 97, just short of two centuries in a row, while Yasir Shah got all the way to a miraculous first test century, not too bad for a bowler in an away test, but that was about it, as Mitchell Starc in particular was amazing.

And then Australia enforced the follow-on, a rare thing in the post-VVS Laxman miracle times. Ever since VVS Laxman led India to a miracle victory in 2001 after Australia enforced the follow-on, people don’t do it, but this time around it turned out to be a good decision, and demonstrated why Warner was declared on.

The second innings for Pakistan was more of the same only worse, with Nathan Lyon stepping up to the plate, to take over from a misfiring Mitchell Starc to claim his own 5 wicket haul. Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq each got half-centuries and showed some resistance, but it was token really, as it always looked inevitable.

This was the lowest ever number of wickets lost in a win, as Australia lost just 3 wickets. Perhaps that was the record that Tim Paine was going for, rather than David Warner perhaps getting 400. How many people remember an innings victory with 3 wickets lost remains to be seen, but they certainly would have remembered it if Warner had gone all the way to 400.

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