Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Pakistan's teenage dreams ruthlessly shattered
The visitors' gameplan to deploy a young and inexperienced bowling attack against a rampant Australian line-up has been left wanting
Mazher Arshad in Adelaide
1 December 2019, 09:54 AM AEST
Pakistan's bowlers bore the brunt of David Warner's batting on the second day of the second Domain Test in Adelaide. With his innings of 335 not out, Warner registered the tenth highest score in Test history, and second highest for Australia.
His brutal knock exposed Pakistan's bowling inexperience and effectiveness.
Australia declared as soon as Warner went past the iconic number of 334. Pakistan should be thankful to Don Bradman that he scored only that many against England at Leeds in 1930 otherwise Warner's stay on the pitch could have continued.
For the visiting bowlers, it was another day of attrition on the field with the tour going from bad to worse. As the cliché goes, you need 20 wickets to win a Test but Pakistan have been struggling to take even 10.
Australia's three wickets in the innings fell for a whopping 589 runs. It was seventh time in the past 10 Test innings at home that Australia have declared against Pakistan.
Pakistan lacked discipline on many fronts. Warner, when on 236, was caught at gully off Musa Khan but was reprieved because the bowler had overstepped. It was the third time in four Tests against Pakistan Warner had been dismissed off a no-ball.
Pakistan also bowled short lengths which Warner cut and pulled with ease. In comparison, Australian bowlers made Pakistan play. The upshot was 6 wickets for 96 runs.
"They (Australia) bowled well and full because with the pink ball you need to pitch the ball up," said Pakistan's lone wicket-taker Shaheen Shah Afridi.
"They were successful because they targeted the right areas but our bowling was a little short. We also tried to do the same but Warner played well."
The 19-year-old is playing only his fifth Test and already leading the pace attack. He was the only wicket-taker, including the world's most prized wicket of Steve Smith, in Adelaide.
Even though it is just five wickets at 36.80, Shaheen has been Pakistan's best bowler in the series. The other four seamers combined – Mohammad Abbas, Imran Khan, Naseem Shah and Musa – have taken just two wickets, at an average of 177.50.
"It is a young team. It does not have much experience. Test cricket needs hard work and it is a difficult format," Shaheen said.
"They (Naseem and Musa) were playing their first Test. International cricket is never easy. Hopefully they will do well in future."
The inexperience in bowling has been evident throughout the series. While the young bowlers have delivered some good spells in patches, they have struggled to maintain the consistency.
More often than not when rookies are inducted in the team, they have a senior figure around them for guidance. But these Pakistan youngsters are on their own. The combined experience of Pakistan's pace attack before the series was just 26 Tests.
Pakistan is the first team in 142 years of Test cricket to play a series with three teenage fast bowlers – Shaheen, Naseem and Musa. None of the three had played even 10 first-class matches before this tour. While it is true that Pakistan have a history of blooding young bowlers and have done it with good success, it had been done under the guidance of a senior, influential figure.
Wasim Akram's first Test was his only fourth first-class match but he remained Imran Khan's understudy for many years. Waqar Younis made his debut at the age of just 17, by which time Imran had 18 years of experience, and Wasim had been playing for four years.
"It is not right to come to Australia with fast bowlers not having much experience. It was a romantic idea to have teenagers who would blow sides away," said Bazid Khan, a former Pakistan Test and ODI player turned respected commentator.
"Test match cricket finds you out. You have to come back for second and third spells. To put other sides under pressure you have to know how to construct a spell and how to come back in your second spell and bowl when the ball is not doing much.
"It is very difficult bowling here in Australia and when you don't have experience at first-class level and are chucked into Test cricket then it's not the right thing.
"It has shown in the way Australia has dominated. In hindsight, you can it was a wrong decision."
Pakistan conceded 287 runs at 5.31 an over on the second day in Adelaide. It was the fifth time in the past six Tests Down Under that Pakistan's economy rate was more than five an over for a day's play. It highlights how listless Pakistan's bowlers had been in Australia.
While the fast bowlers have been disappointment, the spin department hasn't delivered either. The leg-spinner Yasir Shah was persisted despite his poor record in Australia as the team hoped he would at least be able to contain runs.
But he alone has conceded 404 runs in two innings in the series, including 197 from 32 overs in Adelaide. His economy of 6.15 was worst for any bowler that has bowled at least 30 overs in a Test innings.
Pakistan have never won a Test series in Australia but at least there used to be some competition. They came close to winning in Hobart in 1999 and Sydney in 2010 but the past two tours have been one-sided with Pakistan, apart from one day in Brisbane in 2016, offering no competition.
"If you are not competing with top quality Test sides, there is something wrong. You have to get down to that," Bazid told cricket.com.au.
"How can these talents be managed? They still have to play a lot of cricket. They still have to bowl a lot of overs.
"They need to have the right structure of cricket and a first-class setup which allows them to grow. Unless this gets sorted, we will have same questions again and again. There is no shortcut to success."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
First Test: Australia won by an innings and five runs.