Australia vs Pakistan 2019: 3 talking points from the series
On the 8th of November, Australia annihilated a hapless Pakistan side as they cruised to a 10-wicket victory at Perth, thereby ensuring a 2-0 series triumph. And, while the manner of the victory certainly took aback the thousands of Pakistan supporters at the ground, to the keenest observers of the sport, the encounter only embodied what had transpired throughout the rubber.
In the first clash, the visitors were saved by the rain gods as they somehow escaped defeat whereas the second match was slightly more competitive before Steve Smith decided to impose himself on the game.
Thus, through the course of the series, Pakistan, the No.1 ranked T20I side hadn’t even laid a glove on their hosts, meaning that their ranking and the ICC’s flawed system also came under the scanner.
Yet, that became the least of the tourists’ concerns as Babar Azam and Misbah-ul-Haq’s first series as captain and coach respectively opened up a gigantic can of worms.
As for Australia, there were several positives, especially considering they’d managed to go through the entire calendar year unbeaten in the shortest format; an achievement even more impressive given that they’ve not always accorded T20Is the importance it has deserved.
Consequently, there were a plethora of sub-plots that emerged during the series and with the set of matches done and dusted, the time is ripe to delve into a deeper analysis and chalk out the three biggest talking points that arose during the series.
#3 Iftikhar Ahmed represents a silver lining among the dark batting clouds
Pakistan’s batting hasn’t been their strongest asset over the past few years but they’ve been able to stitch together a defendable total on most occasions, thereby enabling their bowlers to take centre-stage. However, against Australia, they failed to notch up par totals, meaning that they lost matches even before a ball was bowled in the second essay.
At Sydney, they posted a paltry 107 in 15 overs whereas they got themselves to 150 on a placid track at Canberra. Their worst performance though, came at Perth where they unravelled for 106, despite their being no real demons in the strip.
And, though Babar kept doing his bit at the top of the order, the other batsmen were woeful as they fell prey to easily decipherable bowling plans. Fakhar Zaman’s wretched run with the bat continued while Haris Sohail too didn’t cover himself in any glory.
Hence, it was pretty difficult to earmark a positive aspect among their batting blues. Yet, Iftikhar Ahmed represented an aberration as he got stuck into the Aussies and strengthened his credentials with a couple of handy knocks.
At Canberra, Pakistan were in danger of undoing Babar’s work in the opening half of the innings. However, Iftikhar grabbed the ball by the horns and showcased immense confidence and conviction to rattle his way 62 off 34 balls. A few days later, he was tasked with a repair job and he excelled as he scored 45 to ensure the tourist didn’t fold for a total under 100.
Thus, through the course of the games, Iftikhar had underlined his capabilities and his propensity to come up trumps when the chips were down.
And, with Pakistan looking for inspiration in the batting department, his arrival on the international stage couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment.
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