Pakistan v Australia - Men
Pakistan complete 2-0 series sweep
Australia lost five wickets for eight runs in 30 chaotic minutes after lunch to hand the home side a crushing 356-run win in Abu Dhabi
Dave Middleton Abu Dhabi
4 November 2014, 12:35 AM AEST
The end, when it came, was swift, but not merciless. Pakistan won the second Test by 356 runs in Abu Dhabi, completing a two-nil sweep of this UAE-based series.
The margin is Australia's third-heaviest defeat in terms of runs in Test cricket and Pakistan's largest ever, giving the home side a first series win against the men in Baggy Greens since 1994.
Steve Smith, having played exceptionally well, cruelly missed a century when on 97 he was beaten by Yasir Shah's top-spinner, which skidded on to strike him in front with the second ball after lunch.
Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc were all bowled in quick succession while Nathan Lyon was the last man out caught close to the wicket.
Pakistan took the new ball one over before lunch, but it was after the interval the damage was done. In 45 balls, Australia lost their last five wickets for eight runs, Zulfiqar Babar the main destroyer with 5-120 to finish with 14 wickets for the series.
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The Australian team was headed directly for Dubai where flights home to less hostile conditions – although no less hostile opposition in South Africa and India – await.
Australia's heaviest Test defeats (runs)
While the series is lost, Smith and Mitchell Marsh at least shone a light towards a brightening future for Australian cricket.
Smith and Marsh, who have both been touted as future captains of the Australian Test team, batted for nearly 43 overs in a 107-run partnership from day four and most of the first session on day five.
Smith showed he remains a premier player of the spinning ball. His dismissal on 97 left David Warner as Australia's only century-maker this series (compared to nine centuries from Pakistan's batsmen), but he has had a remarkable 12 months.
Since being recalled to the Australian test side in Mohali in March last year as a batsman, not the front-line leg-spinner he was previously thought to be, Smith has thrived.
Four centuries since The Oval in August 2013 show his continued improvement. Add to that six half-centuries. The more recent you cut his average, the more impressive he gets.
Smith's Test career average is 40.39. Take the numbers from his Mohali recall and that jumps to 44. Ignore that India series where Australia were beaten 4-0 and it jumps again to more than 48.
A home summer against India could be another opportunity for Smith to further inflate his record.
Playing his second Test in conditions that couldn't be much more foreign to the WACA Ground where he plies his trade at the domestic level, Marsh showed up some of his more experienced colleagues with a disciplined innings.
Much like his first innings dismissal where he bunted a full toss to mid-on on 87, Marsh will rue the way he fell here today. Opting to play a glance to a drifting, wide leg-side delivery from Mohammad Hafeez, Marsh succeeded only in turning it straight into the hands of leg-slip.
The hosts are intent on securing a two-Test series sweep in Abu Dhabi, but you suspect they would be content with a draw here in Abu Dhabi, which would still secure them their first series win against Australia since 1994.
The sight of Smith, a 25-year-old playing his 22nd Test, and Marsh, who recently turned 23 and is playing just his second Test, is something to warm the cockles of Australian hearts left cold by two below-par performances.
Smith seems to be following in the footsteps of Michael Clarke, and is a popular choice as the captain's heir apparent. He is an outstanding batsman who has made massive leaps in the past 12 months, and doesn't cause off-field controversies.
Marsh has had flirtations with off-field mischief, most notably two years ago when celebrating his 21st birthday with Perth Scorchers teammates while on Champions League duty in South Africa.
Clarke labelled him a future captain recently, writing in his News Ltd column: "I believe Mitchell Marsh can be a future captain of Australia".
"I have toured with him quite a few times now and continue to be impressed with his talent, knowledge and game awareness," wrote Clarke.
"His cricketing maturity is at least five years ahead of the date of birth printed on his passport."
While they have impressed with their batting, Marsh and Smith have struggled with their bowling. However, they are far from the only ones, with a statistical analysis of Australia's effort with the ball revealing it has produced the highest volume of runs per wicket in the history of Test cricket.
Australia took 20 wickets across this two-Test series coming at the cost of 80.15 runs each. The team's previous highest runs per wicket conceded was in a drawn three-Test series against India in 1985-86 when 26 wickets came at an average of 62.46.
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The bowlers were, of course, not helped by Australia's poor fielding in this series, a bone of contention for Clarke in both Tests.
Australia put down a dozen chances, some easy, some less so, but for a team that has prided itself on fielding over the years their lapses in this series have been a concern.
Haddin's recovery will also be the subject of intense scrutiny in the coming days and weeks, with the 37-year-old unable to take his place behind the stumps during Pakistan's second innings.
“Brad has an AC joint injury that we x-rayed during the game and that showed there was no fracture,” said Cricket Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.
“He will return to Sydney and have treatment and depending on his recovery that will determine his availability for the ODI Series against South Africa.”