Cricket / fakhar zaman
akistan vs Australia: Hosts' Test series win all about Sarfraz Ahmed's leadership, Mohammad Abbas' brilliance
Australia have now won three of their last 26 Tests in Asia. Pakistan have won two of their last 26 Tests in Australia. Every time that Pakistan have gone to Australia, they have been humiliated, not just by the quality of the opposition, but the barbs they have had to take at the end of each sweep. On Pakistan’s last tour Down Under, they lost the first Test by just 39 runs; and scored 443/9 (declared) in the first innings of the second Test before they lost the plot. Yet through that series, they had to hear phrases like "Cricket Australia have got to start saying 'listen if things don’t improve we will stop with the invites.'" Thus, they had been waiting for this series — to return all the favours. And, with the exception of the final day in Dubai, they have dominated this series like Misbah and Younis were still part of the XI. Australia have now played four Tests in the UAE since Pakistan made it their permanent home. They have lost three of them by over 200 runs. In 2014 they arrived in the desert with the bravado brought upon by an Ashes whitewash, defeating South Africa in South Africa and with their recent possession of the Test mace. This time around, they arrived more circumspect, although Josh Hazlewood did say Paksitan were “scared” prior to the series, but the overall vibe was that of a team with their egos in check, and one with the humility to change their game according to the conditions rather than trying to impose their style in a foreign land, as they had done in 2014. The overall scoreline was better, but at no point in the series did it look like Australia had a win in their grasp.Pakistan had even lost their UAE fortress — where they had rebuilt from the ashes of 2010 to the mace in 2016. When Sarfraz went into his first series as captain, against Sri Lanka last year, Pakistan held the longest unbeaten streak at home of all Test-playing nations, despite UAE not really being their home. Prior to Misbah’s takeover, Pakistan had lost more home series' than they had won in the preceding 15 years, so there was some fear that the old man may have been the anomaly and Pakistan were returning to being what they were before him. When Sarfraz made the mistakes that Misbah never made to allow Australia an unlikely draw in the first Test in Dubai, those fears only increased. But the second Test — from the despair of the first morning to the joy of the fourth, on the back of the captain playing better than he ever has — was a return to the MisYou era. Sarfraz was finally stepping up to what Pakistan demands of its captains. And really, for all that the likes of Bilal Asif and Fakhar Zaman did as debutants in this series, or the continued growth of Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, this series has been about two men. Firstly, the captain, who had been under duress pretty much since the first loss to India in the Asia Cup, but has responded with the bat, with his fields and even his selections and gambles in this series. The Champions Trophy triumph may forever be the high watermark of his tenure, but this series had a greater imprint from him than any before. The fact that it included the return of Hafeez — which he reportedly was in favour of unlike the coach — and the fact that two of the three debutants in this series (Mir Hamza and Fakhar) belong to the same club that he captains back home in Karachi is enough to leave that impression.
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