Tim Paine, the Australia captain, said his side had taken one step forward but two back after their crushing series defeat to Pakistan.
The tourists had arrived in the UAE trying to repair their reputation, as they were playing their first Test series since the ball-tampering controversy in March that saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft suspended from international cricket.
Paine’s new era had started with some initial cheer after they saved the first Test in dramatic fashion in Dubai.
However, they faced up to a tough new reality after suffering a huge 373-run loss – their largest ever against Pakistan, and fourth-worst against anyone in terms of runs – at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday.
“We came here to win this series,” Paine said. “We did OK in the first Test, at least showed the fight and the brand of cricket we want to play in the second innings.
“To come out and do that in this Test, it is like taking one step forward and two steps back. It is really frustrating.”
Australia had appeared to be well placed to inflict a shock series defeat on their hosts on Day 1 in Abu Dhabi, after they reduced Pakistan to 57 for five on the first morning.
After Fakhar Zaman and Sarfraz Ahmed repaired the damage with a resolute stand, though, Pakistan dominated more or less the entire match thereafter.
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“We had some momentum from the first Test, started really well here, and from five for 57 it went pear-shaped, all over the field,” Paine said.
“It is hard to swallow. I’d like to go back to that lunch break, and come back out and start again. We just weren’t up to it. We weren’t able to sustain it for long enough.”
To make matters worse for Australia, their lone shining light in this two-Test series, Usman Khawaja, was forced to sit out the second-half of the second Test with a knee injury.
The opener has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, which may require surgery and could preclude him from playing in the opening Tests of Australia’s forthcoming home series against India.
Pakistan suffered an injury concern of their own in the Abu Dhabi Test. Sarfraz Ahmed was forced to sit out the final stages of the game, having been hit on the head while batting against Peter Siddle on Day 3.
Sarfraz was well enough to return to the ground for the post-match presentations. He said he had awoken at 5am on Friday feeling the effects of the head injury.
He was taken to hospital for precautionary scans, and was told to rest for 48 hours.
Sarfraz said that the form of Mohammed Abbas, who took 10 wickets in the match and 17 in the series, had been “one of the big factors” in Pakistan winning it.
He also singled out Fakhar Zaman, who past 50 in both innings of his debut, for praise.
“The way Abbas has bowled all series is one of the biggest positives for us,” Sarfraz said.
“Fakhar has had an excellent debut, he's an important player. This team management wants to give confidence to young players. All the youngsters who have come through in recent times have done well.”