Pakistan went into the 1st Test with some hope. The Akmal brothers were in great batting form and there were high expectations from Mohammad Aamer and Asif. There were talks about Pakistan potentially winning this match or at least putting up a decent fight. It is arguable Pakistan put up a decent fight, but Ponting helped making Pakistan look better because of his adventurous (some would say, “premature”) declaration decisions.
Pakistan managed about 250 in their 2 innings, which is a poor score on this type of track. So, from that perspective, there was nothing amazing about the batting. Misbah earned respect of some fans by making a 50 in the 1st innings, although somehow Faisal Iqbal did not earn the same respect by almost making a 50 in Pakistan’s 2nd innings, batting at no 3? It seems that the only batsman Pakistan ought to replace would be Imran Farhat, since he is the only one who scored measly in both innings.
The way Misbah got out in the 2nd innings was unforgivable. Not only did he show he is not able to handle quality bowling, he also showed that he cannot handle pressure. Johnson is a good bowler, but Misbah got out in an identical fashion to the previous batsman, Umer Akmal. One can say Misbah could not get settled, but with such poor technique and inability to handle pressure, how can one have the ability to settle down in the first place? You settle down when you have the ability to take pressure on and confront good bowling, which Misbah has shown plenty of times he does not.
A lot of fans commented that fielding is the reason why Pakistan lost, referring to the 2 dropped
catches on the first day- one by Misbah and the other by Umer Akmal. This is the height of ignorance, because when was it ever normal or expected by Pakistani fielders to take their catches? When did Pakistan become an excellent or reliable fielding side? It was unlucky that Kaneria got injured and it was an error in judgement by the team management to choose Rauf over Gul (or even Sami). So, luck contributed in Pakistan losing this Test but it is laughable to make more than a mere passing remark about the fielding, because no matter who the opposition is or what ground it is, Pakistan will drop plenty of catches. One can be upset at Misbah ul Haq for firstly dropping a sitter off Ajmal and then secondly, grinning shamelessly about it because Misbah has proven to be a mediocre performer so far in his career. But, overall one can’t expect Pakistan to field like South Africa. Even Australia dropped a catch or two in the Test.
This Melbourne track is probably as flat a track as a team can get in Australia and it is a significant cause for concern that Pakistan could only manage about 250 in both their innings. Players like Butt, Iqbal and Misbah may have made about 50-60 runs each in this Test, but how will they survive on a pacier and bouncier wicket? How will they play Johnson? In my opinion there is no glory in this so-called “fightback” by Pakistan, because on this type of track, a minnow side can score 200. Plus, the pitch was not assisting Johnson, Bollinger and Siddle as much as a normal Australian pitch does. So, there is no hope basking in glory because if the Sydney and Hobart tracks are more bowler friendly, then Pakistan can suffer innings defeats.
Bowling wise, the fans are almost unanimous that Kaneria and Gul
should replace Rauf and Ajmal. Batting wise, Younis Khan should replace Imran Farhat, however the team management is double minded about this. What is the confusion about? It is clear that Farhat ought to be dropped, so why not replace him with one of Pakistan’s best ever batsmen? Faisal Iqbal has redeemed himself by making a fighting near-fifty in the 2nd innings, and Misbah will not be dropped for 6 months because of his 65 in the 1st innings, so is there any argument about who ought to replace Imran Farhat?
A combination of poor luck and poor batting made Pakistan lose this Test, where they could have performed better. The fact that Ponting made those adventurous declarations confirms that the Aussies know Pakistan’s weaknesses very well; they know this team can’t handle pressure. Players like Malik, Misbah, Butt, Farhat, Iqbal etc must never have been selected for Pakistan in the first place and the sooner they are removed, the better. This is not just about changing a few faces in the dressing room, this is something more substantial. This is about changing a culture, a mindset. Our job as commentators is to bring these problems to light and recommend changes. But the lazy, corrupt, biased and stupid decision makers don’t budge.