MCG Debacle and the Misbah Inevitability: Where do we go from here?

Pakistan vs Australia 2nd test ended today, resulting in an innings and 18 run victory for Australia in spite of the fact that more than one hundred overs were lost to rain. Pakistan, after a heroic and almost historical 4th innings effort in the first test, folded on the last day for 163, handing the series 2-0 to Australia. This was Pakistan’s 5th consecutive defeat in test matches, equalling their own record.

The Pakistan batting team was at the fore front again as numerous batsmen perished to poor strokes and unconvincing defence. 4 of them were bowled, 3 of those chopped on, highlighting Pakistan team’s struggle with batting technique.

Questions were also raised after Pakistan let Australia canter to a lead of 182 despite racking up a hefty 443-9 declared in the first innings. Steve Smith continued his love affair with MCG with his 3rd consecutive 100 in boxing day tests. David Warner and Usman Khwaja also scored big, but the real surprise was Mitchell Starc being let loose as he smashed his way to 84 in response to an inexplicable, if not altogether nonexistent, bowling strategy used by Pakistan.

Misbah’s poor run of form continued, as he was once again subjected to questions about retirement. In the last 7 tests, Misbah’s average stands at an astonishing 9.7 for a batsman who was considered the backbone of the batting lineup. There was good news however, as the tail continued to wag like it has been on this tour, and Azhar Ali put in another brilliant performance with the bat, scoring a double ton in the first innings.

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Azhar Ali scored 205 not out in the first innings

It is clear that the team is struggling in multiple areas at the moment, not least the bowling as in both tests so far, the Australians have been allowed to bat Pakistan out of the game. Micky Arthur needs to come up with quick solutions because going by the current standards, we will be languishing with the likes of Bangladesh in test rankings before long. Yasir Shah cannot bear all the spin bowling load especially with Pakistan playing with only 4 specialist bowlers.

Fields set by Misbah were also questionable, as they resulted in Yasir being very expensive and Australia scoring at a high rate, which ultimately became a big factor in the match producing a result despite rain.

All in all, with Misbah near retirement, and the team in an unfortunate downward spiral, it looks as if the next couple of years are going to be a hard grind for the Pakistan team, unless dramatic steps are taken. Mohammad Aamir has been shouldering a lot of expectations since his return to test cricket, and has failed to produce the same results as six years before. Senior batsmen have been under fire, and bowling and fielding is struggling in containing the opposition. It is time we rethink our tactics and selection policies and prepare for a long term future after the departure of Misbah and Younis in the near future.

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