No Ajmal, no problem at all as Pakistan dominate Dubai Test

Inexperienced Pakistan bowlers engineer tourists’ collapse from 128-0 to 303 all out.

Like some of his teammates on Friday, Mitchell Marsh got off to a good start before being dismissed, trapped leg before wicket by Zulfiqar Babar. Warren Little / Getty Images
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DUBAI // Only Pakistan could summon, en masse, a set of bowlers with the credentials of a bunch of work experience kids and discover they were fit for the purpose straight away.

Nobody else could have their captain’s authority challenged so routinely, yet have the full set of players performing for him so unquestioningly.

Pakistan were always going to be all right here. Just because that is what they do. This is the way they roll.

Forget the fact they were entirely dominated in the limited-overs series. Forget all the injuries, absentees and controversies.

Discount the disparity between the two sides in the rankings. This is Pakistan. In the UAE. Australia’s batsmen really never stood a chance.

Ahead of this game, Pakistan’s four-man bowling attack, which excludes the all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez, had the combined experience of eight Test matches to draw on.

Their opponents’ attack, by contrast, had 145 caps between them, even accounting for the arrival of debutant Steve O’Keefe.

Yet they took 10 Australian wickets for 175 on a pitch that was given to neither exaggerated turn or bounce.

It made no sense. A little bit like the set of Pakistani supporters in the front row wearing huge Mexican sombreros and Zapata moustaches. No sense at all. Yet, entirely predictable, all the same.

Maybe it was no surprise Saeed Ajmal, the most notable absentee from the Pakistan bowling line up, was tweeting pictures of his newly-remodelled bowling action midway through the afternoon.

Given the way his stand-ins were faring, he might well have been starting to feel a little insecure. “I’ll be back,” he was saying. “If selected,” they were saying.

Wahab Riaz, the injured fast bowler, joined in on social media, though only to congratulate his mates.

He might find it a job to get back in ahead of Rahat Ali, the left-arm seamer who got two wickets and a run out.

It added up to a 151-run first innings lead for Pakistan.

It is possible that they will not be able to turn their considerable advantage into a victory over the next two days, but at least the demise of Pakistan cricket has been shelved for another day.

Closing Day 3 on such a position of strength had appeared fanciful in the morning, with Australia reaching 128 before losing a wicket, and David Warner appearing entirely at ease with life.

Warner made a third successive Test century – and the fourth in his past six innings in the long format.

He had admitted his fitness was still an issue. Warner missed last week’s practice match in Sharjah because of injury and was consigned instead to walking innumerable tedious laps of the field.

Given the power with which he pushed off when running what he thought would be the three he needed for his century, though, Usain Bolt would have been left in the blocks next to him.

Had the ball not found its way to the boundary rope, Warner would have lapped his partner, Alex Doolan.

The rock-the-baby celebration the opener used – noting the birth of his daughter, Ivy Mae – when he reached three figures is becoming de rigueur at this ground.

Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene did it last time a Test was played here, in January, to mark the arrival of his first child.

Then Warner played inside a leg break from Yasir Shah, which turned sharply from the bowlers’ footmarks outside his off stump.

So the die was cast. Yasir ended with three wickets as Pakistan’s bowlers made merry.

As they do.