A very happy Pakistan coach, the Aussies undone by an obscure DRS rule and Sarfraz Ahmed gets schooled. It’s all in our diary from day three of the First Test between Australia and Pakistan in Dubai.
During the day’s play the camera kept cutting to Arthur who was having a hard time containing his glee as the Australian wickets tumbled, at one stage losing seven for just 41 runs.
Much of the Australian collapse was credit to Arthur who applied the screws perfectly after lunch using accurate paceman Mohammad Abbas and Wahab Riaz, and a well set field, to first dry up the Australian scoring rate, which allowed Abbas to get the crucial breakthrough of Aaron Finch’s wicket.
Once the breakthrough was made, Bilal Asif was then brought on to cut a swathe through the Australian top order.
And Mickey was smiling all the way with a grin as big as a famous Disney character who shares his first name.
There’s a “three metre rule”?
A hot topic around the Test, especially with the Australian contingent, was the review of Haris Sohail’s LBW decision on Monday, when the Pakistan batsmen was on just 51.
Richard Illingworth was in the action again after turning down a big appeal Nathan Lyon against Sohail when he appeared be struck in front.
Tim Paine sent it upstairs and replays confirmed that the ball had hit Sohail in front and was going on to hit the stumps but according to “the three metre” rule, the umpire’s original decision stood.
The obscure “three metre rule” states however that if the batsmen is struck more than three wickets away from the stumps the decision cannot be overturned by DRS.
The Australians were not even aware of this rule as a confused Marnus Labuschagne admitted at the end of the day’s play.
But Aussie commentator Mark Waugh for one thought the rule was one that definitely needed to be looked at.
“As soon as you don’t play a shot I reckon you should be able to be given out on the DRS even if it’s outside the three metres,” said Waugh on Foxsports Australia.
“Fair enough if you play a shot, OK, I’ll happily live with that but if you don’t play a shot I reckon you should be given out otherwise you’ll have blokes running down the wicket and padding up to balls knowing they won’t be given out.
“It should be given out anyway.”
Pakistan captain gets “schooled”
The microscope was trained on the Australians in terms of behaviour coming into the Test but instead it was the hosts who were drawing the ire of the umpires on day three.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was very unhappy with an unsuccessful review and let umpire, and former Abu Dhabi school teacher, Illingworth knows all about it.
Illingworth then returned fire displeased about the regular appearance on the field of Pakistan’s water bearers.
The two kept up a lively banter for the rest of the morning with shouting from both parties being clearly heard on the boundary ropes.
The Australians for their part have been well behaved apart from a few taunts which Haris Sohail said he heard, and ignored, during his maiden Test century on Monday.
And Illingworth is if course well known to the Australians as he was one of the umpires in Cape Town who uncovered “sand-paper” gate.
Pakistan‘s centurion Haris Sohail revealed he cut out all the noise, including some verbal taunts from the Australian players, to notch up his maiden international century during the first Test in Dubai.
Sohail dug deep to score 110 off 240 balls in tough conditions on a slow pitch and heavy outfield against a disciplined Australian attack. The century was a big relief for Sohail as he had made two 39s during the Test series in England and a 28.
Those starts gave Sohail the confidence that runs are just round the corner. And even a few words from an Australian side made to field for nearly two days in the Dubai heat didn’t knock him off course.
“When you score your first Test ton, the excitement is different. In the previous series in England I got out in the 30s. But I learned a lot from those 30s as I panicked there at times. My effort in this innings was to not panic. I knew the runs would come,” Sohail said after the end of day two in Dubai.
“I am straightforward man. If (the Australians) did say something to me … I didn’t even look at them to be honest. They did say a couple of things but it went in one ear and out of the other,” the left-handed batsman added.
Following the ball-tampering and sledging scandal in South Africa earlier in the year, Australian players including Tim Paine have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from that ‘ugly’ image. But it looks like there is still some room for a few words when the pressure is on.
Sohail said scoring was tough against the old ball and a heavy outfield but maintained the team is pleased with their score of 482, even though they looked set for a bigger total after being 410-4 at one stage.
“At one stage the seam came off the ball. They didn’t take the new ball,” he added. “The ball became so soft, it was very difficult to score runs even when you timed the ball well. We knew when the new ball would come we would score runs. And that’s exactly what happened.
“On this pitch, where runscoring is difficult, the pitch is slow and the outfield is heavy, it is a good score.”
Pronunciations, absent crowds and quiet Australians – here’s our diary from day on day two of the First Test between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai.
Much confusion at the Test has revolved around how to pronounce Aussie Test debutant Marnus Labuschagne’s name, especially in the Pakistan media.
Labuschagne hails from Klerksdorp in South Africa and when he arrived in Australia at the age of ten he didn’t speak any English, knowing only his native tongue Afrikaans.
The pronunciation of his name in Afrikaans is “La-boo-skak-nay” but in an effort to assimilate Marnus began pronouncing his name “La-boo-shane” as in “pane”.
The Aussies won’t care too much about how you say his name at the moment as he was one of the stars on day two, getting a huge brea through with the wicket of Asad Shafiq thanks to his occasional leg spin, caught behind by Tim Paine.
He then combined again with Paine for the run out of the dangerous Babar Azam with a sharp throw from cover.
The 24-year-old Queenslander should also have had the wicket of Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed on eight but another debutant, Aaron Finch, dropped the sharp chance at first slip.
At least Finch made up for it running out Sarfraz after he had added just seven more runs.
Where have all the people gone?
A real talking point in the first two days of the Test, especially among the visiting media, has been the lack of a crowd.
The Australians are used to playing in front of tens of thousands of spectators at great sporting cathedrals like the Sydney Cricket Ground and Gabba.
So a deserted Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DISC) is a far cry from a packed MCG on the first morning of an Ashes Test.
Indeed there was probably more people watching David Warner’s recent century in a grade cricket match at Coogee Oval in Sydney than there is at this Test between the No3 and No7 Test teams in the world.
The DISC seats 25,000 on its shades of blue seating so the paucity of bodies is noticeable everywhere you look.
According to the few who are at the ground, there were more people on day two than day one and the figure was helped by Dubai Sports City inviting a local school group to come and help fill some seats – they cheered on every Pakistan run with great excitement.
With so few spectators at DISC, it made the noise level at the ground very quiet so you can hear virtually everything that’s happening out in the middle. And what is most noticeable is the distinct absence of “chat” by the Australian team to the batsmen.
Whereas in the past an Aussie team would be getting right up in the face of their opponents, needling, discomforting, distracting, essentially doing anything they can to try and get a wicket – this Australian team are demure in contrast.
There has been some gentle encouragement for their bowlers but none of the bite and snarl that has become synonymous with the Baggy Green.
Even pace bowlers Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc have refrained from a few verbals as the batsmen have trotted past for a run.
Captain Paine said before the Test that Australia would be professional and respectful – and they have been both, as well as disciplined.
But watching this Aussies team is sort of like curry without spice – it looks like curry and tastes like curry but something is definitely missing.