Flashback: Pakistan vs. Australia 2014
Australia comes to the UAE eager to face Pakistan as part of their preparations for the upcoming World Cup. The two teams are slated to play a solitary T20I, followed by 3 ODIs and lastly, a 2 match Test Series.
Australia gets down to business, knocking out Pakistan for 96 in the T20I and chasing it down with ease. The Australians follow that up with a 3-0 whitewash in the ODI series behind star performances from Man of the Series Steve Smith.
As the two teams arrived to the highly-anticipated test series, the visitors looked to continue their dominant form, while Pakistan hoped to salvage their pride.
As the first Test in Dubai approached, both sides fielded teams of their best players, mixed in with some new faces. Pakistan had their usual lineup anchored around the legendary duo of Younis Khan at 4 and captain Misbah ul-Haq at 5. Fast bowler Imran Khan (no, not that one) and leg-spinner became Test Cricketers no. 218 and 219 for Pakistan respectively. Shah was brought on as a replacement for stalwart spinner Saeed Ajmal, who again had been banned from bowling for his action.
Australia, led by captain Michael Clarke, fielded a star-studded squad featuring fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson. Steve Smith and David Warner formed the dynamic batting powerhouse, while Mitchell Marsh and Steven O'Keefe became the 438th and 439th cricketers to earn the baggy green. Limited overs specialist Glenn Maxwell was also included in the squad, eager to make his test debut.
The First Test, Dubai
Pakistan won the toss and elected the bat, and the opening stand could not have gone worse.
Mitchell Johnson nailed an inswinger to remove Mohammad Hafeez for a duck, while Peter Siddle bowled Ahmed Shehzad around his legs. Pakistan was 7-2 within 4 overs.
Pakistan's ever-so-reliable middle order stabilized. Azhar Ali and Younis Khan put on 108 in a recovery partnership. Khan reached his 25th test century, supported by half-centuries from Misbah ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq.
Taking advantage of the strong foundation, wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed played aggressor, hitting his maiden century at an extraordinary clip to take Pakistan to 454 all out.
In response, David Warner and Chris Rogers put on a 128 run opening stand. While Rogers played his natural game, Warner played aggressive, reaching 133 before becoming victim to a viciously turning leg break from Yasir Shah.
Sensing an opening, spinners Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, and Mohammad Hafeez took advantage. The trio took 6 wickets as the tourists went from 206-3 to 303 all out late in Day 3 of the match.
With a lead of 151 in hand, Pakistan went to work. Ahmed Shehzad came back from his first-innings duck to score 131. Younis Khan repeated his heroics by scoring another century, a quick paced 103* with which he overtook Inzamam ul-Haq's record for most test centuries for Pakistan.
Pakistan declared at 286/2, leaving Australia a mammoth 438 to chase.
As day 5 began, the pitch had become a raging turner, and the Pakistani spinners licked their lips at the prospect of their newfound advantage.
They made light work of the tourists. Babar and Shah combined for nine wickets, as the former completed a five-wicket haul. Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson fought valiantly, both picking up half centuries, but ultimately succumbed to Yasir Shah.
Man of the Match went to Younis Khan for his two centuries. Pakistan win by 221 runs.
The Second Test, Abu Dhabi
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Pakistan went with an unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Australia brought in pace spearhead Mitchell Starc and handed a debut to Glenn Maxwell. In a moment of deja vu, Michael Clarke again loses the toss and Misbah ul-Haq elects to bat.
Pakistan's trio of centuries propelled them to a massive 570/6 declared. Azhar Ali and Misbah ul-Haq fell shorts after completing the milestone, but it was a Younis Khan masterpiece that was the main feat.
Younis Khan, targeting off-spinners Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell, piled on 213 runs in a fluid and boundary-filled innings. He swept his way to his fifth 200+ score.
The frontline bowlers seemed powerless against Khan. Captain Michael Clarke brought on the all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Maxwell. Nothing. Finally, Clarke brought on himself and Steve Smith to bowl a combined 16 overs in an effort to remove the comfortable batsman.
In response, Australia got starts from their batsman but none could capitalize. Glenn Maxwell put up 37 on debut while captain Michael Clarke scored 47, but both fell soon after. Zulfiqar Babar removed Steve Smith for a duck, leaving Australia at 100-5.
Mitchell Marsh top-scored with 87 in a fighting innings, clawing his side to 261 all out, still trailing by 309 runs.
Pakistan decided not to enforce the tourists to follow on, deciding to bat again to set what could be a mammoth total.
Shehzad and Hafeez fell early to Mitchell Johnson, Pakistan 21-2. Younis Khan and Azhar Ali partnered up to put on 131. Australia breathed a sigh of relief when Khan fell four runs short of a half-century. Pakistan were 152-3.
And then it happened.
Misbah ul-Haq comes out. If runs were to come, they had to come quick as the home side wanted enough time to bowl out Australia. Why send out a defensive batsman instead of a more aggressive batsman like Sarfraz Ahmed?
First ball to Misbah, full toss, creams it over Steve Smith's head for 4 four runs. Ok, anyone could have hit that full toss. But what next?
In Smith's next over, Misbah goes 6,6,4,6. He's standing on 28(10). This would be an aggressive inning for a T20I, much less a test match.
He goes on to score the fastest test 50, besting Jacques Kallis by 3 balls. But Misbah doesn't let up. By the time Pakistan declares at 293/3, Misbah ul-Haq is not out on 101(57)*. With 11 fours and 5 sixes, Misbah equals Vivian Richards for the fastest Test Century in history.
Nobody expected this from a Pakistani batsman, much less one whose game relies on defensive tactics and patience.
Australia is left with a gargantuan target of 603, with 48 overs left on Day 4, along with an entire day 5 to play out.
David Warner fought, scoring an admirable half century while Steve Smith fell agonizingly short of a hundred, but the finish was never really in doubt at this point.
Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah, and Mohammad Hafeez, the ever-reliable spin trio, went to work. They bowled the vast majority of the overs, taking all ten wickets. Babar quietly picked up another 5-ver, the last 5 Australian wickets falling for a measly 8 runs.
246 all out. Pakistan wins by 356 runs, far and away their highest margin of victory by runs. Man of the Match is Misbah ul-Haq, who played a truly uncharacteristic and powerful inning.
Younis Khan picks up Man of the Series honors for a splendid run of batting, 468 runs. Pakistan recovered from the drubbing they received in the limited overs leg of the series. They felt confident ahead of the upcoming New Zealand series.
Australia fell apart in all three facets said Michael Clarke, and the stats back it up. David Warner played a few brave innings with the bat as did Steve Smith, but the game was lost in their bowling. Their fast bowlers found little help from the pitch as Mitchell Johnson struggled to find his rhythm. The spinners, especially Nathan Lyon, felt out of touch as they were victim of runs.
What to expect in 2018
Australia returns to the UAE with greater expectations. Michael Clarke retired from tests in 2015 as did Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, and Brad Haddin. After the ball-tampering saga, the team has lost Steve Smith and David Warner, leaving a new-look side to face Pakistan.
Nathon Lyon will look to improve on his outing from last time. He was swept with exception by Younis Khan in Dubai, smacked out of sight by Misbah-ul-Haq in Abu Dhabi - and finished the series with three wickets at 140.66, at a cost of 3.83 runs per over. This time, he looks in good form as he just picked up 8 wickets against Pakistan A in a warm-up match ahead of the test series.
Pakistan meanwhile, are quite the different team than this one. Legendary duo Younis Khan and Misbah ul-Haq retired together in 2017, exposing a fragile middle order. Sarfraz Ahmed returns, this time as captain. Also expected to play from this series are Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, and Yasir Shah.
The newbies include Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, and Haris Sohail with the bat. All three have had tastes of test cricket but will look to firmly announce their arrival against the Australians. In the bowling department, Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali should leave the way. Yasir Shah will also be eager to face Australia in the same grounds where he controlled them in his debut series.
With two fresh teams ready to battle, one looks to avenge their predecessors, while the other aim to top it. Not even a ball bowled yet and this looks to be a great series.
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