Advertisement

TOUR OF THE UAE V PAKISTAN

Australia fight but Pakistan win

27 October 2014

Smith, Johnson efforts can't rescue tourists

Scorecard: Pakistan v Australia, first Test

Close call: Johnson out stumped in line-ball decision

Pakistan have won the first Test by 221 runs in Dubai but it did not come without a dogged, gutsy fight from Australia.

There was controversy and drama, too, right to the very end. A close catch from Peter Siddle was celebrated and Pakistan’s players ripped stumps out of the ground.

Umpire Marais Erasmus appeared to signal out, then called for the third umpire as the Pakistanis sheepishly replaced the souvenired wickets. The television replays confirmed the edge from Siddle, giving Zulfiqar Babar his fifth wicket, and the stumps were uprooted again.

Before that, Mitchell Johnson was given out by the third umpire on a marginal stumping decision as the end came shortly after tea.

Johnson had pushed forward with a big stride and played safely inside the line. Sarfraz Ahmed quickly had the bails off, convinced he had his man. After a lengthy review process by the third umpire, Nigel Llong was convinced there was no doubt and Johnson was on his way.

That he had played a gutsy, determined 127-ball innings for 61 runs showed that even on the fifth day, this Dubai pitch did not have the demons many predicted.

The rearguard action was brave and valiant but ultimately in vain. Steve Smith and Johnson batted for 29 overs in partnership, adding 65 runs. They each recorded a half-century, which only served to highlight that this was still a surface that runs could be scored on with patience and application.

Smith had looked to be building a memorable innings as Australia's saviour. He played the spin with aplomb, using good footwork and wonderful technique to reach his seventh Test half-century.

However, when he fell having bunted the leg-spin of Yasir Shah to short-leg on 55, the last recognised batsmen fell for Australia.

But Johnson has a Test century to his name, and has the heart for a fight. So, too, does Peter Siddle, who took Australia to tea at 8-196.

The tourists had flirted with danger after lunch. Smith danced down the wicket on 44 and smashed a drive to Misbah-ul-Haq at short cover. The ball was travelling at considerable pace and it would have been a fantastic catch, but the Pakistan skipper did get a hand to it low to his right.

Johnson then skied a slog sweep to deep midwicket and Ahmed Shezhad, coming forward, put down a catch that should have been comfortable.

The left-hander repeated the stroke a short time later, sending this one higher. Yasir, at backwards square leg, backpeddled, misjudged, and turfed the catch for another Australian reprieve.

Australia lost 4-5 in 23 balls on the fourth afternoon, and another 3-13 in seven overs before lunch.

The batsmen had kept Pakistan at bay for 73 minutes on the final morning. Chris Rogers and Smith had negotiated 17 overs before Imran Khan went around the wicket.

A full delivery speared in and showed a hint of reverse swing. Rogers looked to turn it to the leg side but was bowled through the gate, the ball crashing through his defences to push back the middle stump.

The opener's 131-ball vigil for 43 runs over a little short of three hours was ended, bringing debutant allrounder Mitchell Marsh to the crease.

With his father Geoff, the former Australian opener watching on, Marsh looked to push forward and smother the left-arm orthodox spin of Zulfiqar Babar.

But with five men crowding around the bat and the hard hands of a strong man who grew up on the hard and fast pitches of Western Australia, this was a ploy fraught with danger.

And so it proved from the third ball he faced. The big stride forward, the defensive push, a prod at the ball as the bat slid across the front pad; it all succeeded in only hitting a catch to Azhar Ali at silly mid-off under the helmet.

Marsh departed with returns of 27 and 3 with the bat, and match figures of 0-63 from his first Test.

Brad Haddin's fighting qualities are renowned, and he looked set for the scrap. But he played for turn where there was none and was bowled through the gate by Babar.

After day four, captain Michael Clarke spoke about Australia's batsmen having been deceived not by the turn Pakistan's spinners have generated, but by the lack of it.

"It’s not so much the spin, I think it’s the slowness of the wicket," said Clarke.

"The spin is a little bit inconsistent and I think that’s probably what has caught us out today, guys have played for spin and a lot of us have been out to balls that actually haven’t spun too much."

The same comment could apply to the wickets that fell on day five.

The wicket-taking balls may not have spun, but there was spin to put doubt into the batsmen's minds. Yasir had one leg-spinner turning sharply out of the footmarks in the day's second over. It turned so wildly it passed safely behind Rogers and required an excellent stop from the keeper, Sarfraz Ahmed.

It prompted Shane Warne to tweet:

Speaking before play, opener Chris Rogers said the slow nature of the Dubai pitch was a challenge that modern Australian batsmen didn't encounter much in their home conditions.

But the left-hander didn't offer any excuses, saying the Aussies had to "find a way and fight through".

"We don't get those wickets anymore (in Australia)," Rogers said.

"I remember playing (former Test leg-spinner Stuart) MacGill in Sydney when I first started (my career) and that was a challenge.

"We don't have them anymore which is a bit of a shame. But that's the way it's gone.

"And we have to adapt. We had a couple of weeks here practicing before the first Test and it is different and it is very difficult.

"But we've played a lot of cricket now and we have to learn and learn quickly."

Test

About the Writer

 @Dave_Middleton
@Dave_Middleton

Dave Middleton is cricket.com.au's senior news editor. From Queensland, he spent 10 years in the UK where he wrote for The Times, The Sunday Times, the Guardian and The Telegraph.

Top Stories

Warner-warming-for-Kandy-opener-still

Mitch Marsh

Cook mirrors Bradman during Old Trafford Test


Kohli receives praise for historic knock


England in control against Pakistan


Aussies aim to heap pressure on Mathews