It wasn’t really a surprise as Pakistan fell to their second straight innings defeat against Australia with the hosts completing an emphatic series whitewash in Adelaide. This was Pakistan’s sixth consecutive Test loss and that includes one defeat at home in Abu Dhabi to New Zealand.
While they’ve a few talented batsmen in Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan along with a couple of bowlers brimming with potential, the one aspect of their game that they need to improve as quickly as possible is definitely their fielding.
At Adelaide, for a team boasting of such a low average age, the ground fielding was nothing short of atrocious. The fielders lacked anticipation, at times missed the ball in the outfield or hilariously let balls run across to the boundary with half hearted attempts to stop them.
During the first ten overs of the second Test on the opening day, new ball bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Abbas started off exceedingly well. They bowled good lines and did not give the Australian openers, Joe Burns and David Warner any easy opportunities to score.
Burns fell early and the next batsman Marnus Labuschagne was also put under pressure by some aggressive bowling as he took ten deliveries to get off the mark.
By the end of the seventh over, the Aussies had managed just 13 runs. However, Warner had got his eye in and had started rotating strike by pinching singles after dropping balls in front of fielders at point and cover. The fielders were always slow off the blocks and struggled to support the bowlers by stopping these runs.
This slowly alleviated the pressure and from thereon, there was no stopping the hosts. Warner even got to his fifty through overthrows, as two fielders on the off-side failed to back up for a throw coming in from fine-leg.
As a team they collectively failed on the field and it was their lack application that was quite shocking. Shaheen Afridi’s misfields to allow easy boundaries, Imam-ul-Haq’s poor throw which resulted in a missed run-out chance and many other such instances saw half-chances slip away. With such abject fielding, it is almost impossible for a team to sustain pressure against a quality opposition in a Test match.
Ever since Steve Rixon was sacked as their fielding coach, Pakistan’s fielding has hit a new low. Misbah-ul-Haq and his team need to work on the team’s fitness to stay sharp on the field and instill discipline to ensure performances on field remain consistent.
High quality fielding can help maintain the morale of a team even when they don’t have the match under control. However, a poor fielding unit, like Pakistan will not only struggle to pick themselves up but will also let go of opportunities that could possibly change the outcome of the game.
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