Life without Steven Smith and the much-loved David Warner began for Australia in the sweltering heat of the United Arab Emirates this week.
The law-abiding Aussies managed to salvage a deserved draw during their first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, with more cricketers on the field than spectators in the stands.
It was a simple case of the experienced and well versed Pakistan outfit coming up against a new look, revamped and ‘who the f**k is he?’ Aussie side.
On The Back Foot Against Flat-Track Bullies
Newly-appointed captain Tim Paine was on the back foot before a ball was bowled at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The opposing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat first. An opening stand of 205 from returning Mohammad Hafeez and Imam Ul-Haq ensured the home side posted a mammoth first innings score of 482. In all formats, the latter averages in the teens outside of sub-continental conditions. You won’t be surprised to hear, the left-handed opener, averages above 50 in sub-continental conditions.
Without knowing how Imam Ul-Haq is going to perform with the bat in years to come (going to get found out!) One thing is for sure, he will still be playing for Pakistan because his uncle – the great Inzamam Ul-Haq, is Head of Selectors. That’s how cricket works over there. Gary Ballance has plenty of uncles!
The Duck Brothers
It was a game to forget for the Marsh brothers, who were both out for ducks in Australia’s second innings, after poor displays in the first. Shaun Marsh, in particular, will be fighting for his career during this series. The 35-year-old has struggled to cement his place in the side ever since his Test debut seven years ago. It was the tenth duck of his Test career.
To be honest, Moeen Ali has more chance of having a drink, than Marsh does of starting Australia’s Test summer next month. The younger brother, Mitchell, is in the side for his bowling too. But, like Adil Rashid during the summer, he only bowled ten overs in the game. I guess he’s already proving to be a Paine in the captain’s arse.
Aussies Of Old
After Pakistan had set Australia 462 runs to win the game, it was looking likely that the home side were going to cruise to victory. I keep saying Pakistan are the ‘home side.’ In truth, like Shane Warne during his first marriage, they are playing away from home. Nonetheless, with an ever-increasing turning pitch, Australia showed signs of fight and resilience.
Usman Khawaja, who is another player fighting for his career, scored a high-quality 141, following up on his 85 from the first innings. Khawaja’s performance was that extra special because it came under tough situations and high pressure. Yasir Shah was constantly beating the outside edge of the bat. Mohammad Abbas was making the new and old ball talk. Not forgetting the threat of debutant, Bilal Asif, who took six wickets in the first innings.
Enjoy A Proper English Performance, Australia!
The next stop for the Aussies? Go back to their hotel rooms, watch England thrash Sri Lanka in the second ODI on Saturday, and then prepare for their next game. By the way, if you struggle to beat India at home next month, erm, watch our recent summer of cricket. We did it with ten men!