Pakistan achieved a victory for the ages crushing fierce rivals India by ten wickets in the teams’ opening Twenty20 World Cup group match on Monday (AEST).
We can all agree that the pink-ball Test in Adelaide is probably Pakistan’s best chance to compete against Australia in Australia.
The ball swings a lot under lights, and it will be ideal conditions for bowlers like Mohammad Abbas and Imran Khan who don’t have the pace or the height to trouble the Aussie batters. The biggest concern for Pakistan for sure is their batting against the Australian bowling attack despite their improved showing in the second innings of the first Test.
Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam played brilliantly in the second innings at the Gabba, making the Australian attack work hard for their wickets. Even though it bodes well for the visitors, the rest of the batting is still a concern.
Captain Azhar Ali got out cheaply in both innings and the middle order is far from consistent. Haris Sohail and Ifthikar Ahmed looked out of depth in the little time they spent in the middle. While the bowling is still a concern with the lack of experience, the batting has become a bigger headache after the first Test.
The wicket at the Gabba was a good one to bat. Apart from the initial overs with the new ball, there was hardly anything for the bowlers and the Pakistan top order really struggled to counter the extra bounce. Haris Sohail repeated the same mistakes in both the innings and has shown to be vulnerable against pace and bounce.
Ifthikar Ahmed, who looked like a million bucks in the T20I series which preceded the Test series, looked to be troubled with the extra bounce as well. Except for Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, all the Pakistan batters have been guilty of going hard at the ball.
While that would have been a great tactic in UAE or Pakistan, the extra bounce in Australia means that you cannot drive away from your body with no feet movement. Azam was clever enough to learn from his mistake in the first innings and showed exemplary skill to score a brilliant hundred.
Rizwan as well seemed to enjoy the pace and bounce on these pitches to cut and pull his way to an attractive 95, but again the rest of the batting is still under scrutiny.
Coach Mishbah-ul-Haq said that his young team lacks consistency and that was evident in their patchy performance in the first Test. The Adelaide Test will be a completely different kettle of fish and it is not going to be easy for the Pakistan batters.
Even though the pink ball will give the ordinary Pakistan bowling attack some breathing space, their batters will face increased scrutiny from the in-form Aussie pacers as well under lights. While Pakistan will be hoping to draw some inspiration from their last pink-ball Test in Australia, the Adelaide track will be completely different from what they faced three years ago.
Things aren’t going to get better for the visitors and the selection headaches in both batting and bowling combinations increase another layer of complication for an already struggling team. While the Pakistan camp and fans alike are elated with the great fightback in the second innings, I would tread with caution as things aren’t as rosy as it seems.
The Adelaide Test will be an interesting one and it will for sure give the Pakistan bowling attack better chance of troubling the Australian batters, but again, I still expect the latter to win the game convincingly.