ABU DHABI // As ever, Misbah-ul-Haq was pulling out the ol’ poker face and refusing to give anything away. Asked repeatedly where he would rank this drought-breaking series triumph over Australia, he hummed and hawed.
It was up there with the whitewash of England in early 2012 of course but how up there?
Finally he cracked and even then, with qualification. “It’s really tough to say but what is important is we have played some great cricket in both series. Both the teams came to us after playing some wonderful cricket back home.
“But considering the fact we had a far better bowling combination for England and this time we had an inexperienced bowling line-up, nobody could have thought we can turn around and beat Australia, so this you can understand is a big achievement.”
Maybe it will take time for him to comprehend what he has overseen. On Monday, his side handed Australia a 356-run defeat, their third-worst ever loss in terms of runs. It was Pakistan’s largest-ever in terms of runs.
There was resistance in the morning as Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh enhanced their reputations immeasurably.
But once Marsh went and the new ball was taken, Australia collapsed in a heap, to spin once again.
They lost five wickets for eight runs in just 45 balls, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar sharing the wickets and, combined, ending with 26 of the 40 wickets in the series. In every sense of the word it was a drubbing.
After an Ashes whitewash and a memorable triumph in South Africa, this was some comedown for Australia.
Worryingly, it extended a trend of shambolic results in Asia, a sixth successive and heavy loss in the region.
Michael Clarke, who had a poor series personally with just 57 runs, could only pick the bones of some individual performances from the loss, but pulled no punches in his assessment of the bigger picture.
“We have got to talk about what’s just happened. We were hopeful that we learnt some lessons from our trip to India [in 2013] but it doesn’t look that way.
“Your goal has to be to try and become better. I say that regularly but our performances here weren’t any better than they were in India.
“It’s a fair indication of where we sit as a team. We’re a lot more comfortable playing in our own back yard and we need to continue to work hard to have success away from home.”
Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan): If this is to be Misbah’s penultimate series in Test cricket, what a way to bow out. Sealing a historic series triumph and twin hundreds would have been enough but he made it stellar by equalling Viv Richards’ record for the fastest hundred. Bizarre and sublime.
Chris Rogers (Australia): Life is not going to get any easier for Rogers, given he is 37. He has at least the examples of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan in the opposition to look at. But Rogers was out of sorts on this surface, his frailties against spin all too apparent, although the first of two single-figure scores was off pace bowling to make it twice as galling.
At 96 for two on the first day, in walked Younis Khan. He walked back the next day, having put on 236 with Azhar Ali (who got his own hundred). The partnership settled Pakistan’s nerves at what could have been a dicey moment. It settled the match and ultimately the series for them as well.
10/10 Full marks in two Tests in a row; maybe the world is flat. Pakistan were outstanding again, from the way they built their first innings, to the way they exploded in the second, to the way they bowled in both innings and caught close-in. Long-suffering Pakistani fans are forgiven for thinking this is a dream.
3/10 They missed more chances, bowled badly and – Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith apart – batted as if they had never come across such a surface before. Sure it might have helped had they won the toss, but they were swept in India in 2013 after winning every toss. They have a serious problem in these conditions and it is not getting better.
Pakistan look every bit guardians of their new fortress away from home. They just know how to bowl and bat – and even field – in these conditions. But to do it with the bowling attack they have had in this Test – and series – is to elevate the win into the realms of extraordinary. In the circumstances, they have not played better.
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