Having taken a substantial 280-run lead in the first innings, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men added a further 181 runs in their second innings to hand Australia an improbable target of 462.
In reply, the Aussies had lost three wickets in the second innings by the time stumps were drawn on Wednesday with Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas accounting for all of them.
Here, we take a closer look at Abbas’ sublime display.
OVERS BOWLED: 11
RUNS CONCEDED: 26
Australia openers Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja had frustrated the Pakistan bowlers at the start of the innings with another 50-run stand between the pair. After a fruitless second session, Pakistan came alive in the evening with Abbas leading the charge. The tireless seamer had been tight with his lines and accuracy all day and opened the floodgates with a destructive spell spanning seven balls. In those seven deliveries, Abbas accounted for Finch and brothers Shaun and Mitch Marsh as Australia went from 87-0 to 87-3.
Mohammad Abbas is like a surgeon with a cricket ball in hand. Such discipline and so precise. #AUSvPAK— ian bishop (@irbishi) October 10, 2018
In the eight Tests that Abbas had played prior to the Dubai clash, he has displayed an unnerving accuracy and supreme control of the swinging ball. On a flat track at Dubai with little assistance for pacers, the right-armed seamer was in his element and gave no breathing room to Australia’s batsmen with his superb line and length. Getting the ball to move into the right-hander and away from the left-handed batsmen, Abbas profited by not letting his accuracy waver at any time.
His move to come around the wicket to left-handers paid dividends with his delivery to dismiss the elder of the Marsh brothers being the perfect testament to his artistry. The ball initially shaped in towards the southpaw before holding its line with a hint of away movement to take Marsh’s outside edge.
Watching Abbas in full flow on day four was akin to watching a bowling masterclass. The 28-year-old was unrelenting with his deadly accuracy and barely did he give any semblance of any room to the Aussie batsman. In fact, his first 10 overs were entirely faultless and it was only in his final over of the day that the Pakistan man faltered with his line for once. Bowling seven overs on the trot on a hot day under the Dubai sun can be tiring for any fast bowler and Abbas can be excused for one wayward delivery after a fine spell which wreaked havoc on the visitors’ top-order.
VERDICT – 9/10
On a pitch tailor-made for spinners with barely any assistance for pacers, Abbas showed his elite credentials with a controlled display of swing and seam.
No other fast-bowler has taken more than three wickets across the two innings, so Abbas stands out with the unbelievable match figures of 7-55.
The Aussies had held fort for a large part on day four with Pakistan’s spinners Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif being nullified to a great extent by Finch and Khawaja.
However, just when Sarfraz Ahmed’s men were in need of some inspiration, Abbas put his hand up before unleashing a fiery spell that left Australia’s top-order in its wake.
Few other pacers could have thrived on that wicket but Abbas did and in some style. Now, he sits on the verge of becoming the joint quickest Pakistan bowler to 50 Test wickets and by the look of things on Wednesday, that feat should be a formality for him on the final day.
At stumps on day four, Australia had reached 136-3 in their second innings with Usman Khawaja and Travis Head unbeaten at the crease.
The hosts resumed on Wednesday on 45-3 in their second innings. Australia took three wickets before lunch with the hosts declaring at 181-6 in the post-lunch session for a target of 462 on a deteriorating pitch.
Aussie openers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch started well in the chase, taking the score to 87 before seamer Mohammad Abbas removed Finch and Shaun Marsh in one over. He then got Mitchell Marsh lbw with the score still on 87. Since then, Khawaja and Travis Head have held fort for Australia by keeping the Pakistan bowlers at bay.
New T20 leagues and ventures like T10 cricket are likely to find it tougher to get sanctions from the International Cricket Council in the future, while Test minnows like Afghanistan and Ireland can expect to play four-day Tests.
ICC general manager Geoff Allardice made the revelations during an interaction with media at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The 2016 Masters Champions League in the UAE folded after just one season, following serious financial troubles resulted in players not getting paid. The T10 edition in Sharjah also came under the scanner after some questions were raised about its viability.
While the 10-over competition has ICC’s approval and is set to return later this year in the UAE, Allardice said in future, such ventures will find it tougher to get the go ahead from cricket’s ruling body.
“One of the things we are talking about is the sanctioning of events and release of players. (ICC) Look at documentation and ownership structures and how the league is going to be funded and then provide approval,” Allardice said on Wednesday.
“How it rolls out after that is in the hands of the owners. What happens next time is if there is dissatisfaction among players, players won’t go back and the future of the league is in jeopardy. If we (ICC) get reports that that sort a thing happens, the likelihood of sanctioning the second edition is significantly reduced,” the 51-year-old said.
“The hurdles to jump for a promoter to put on a league are going to be higher. The vetting process by hosts and the ICC will be enhanced.
“It is a balance as league can be good vehicles. There was a tournament in Canada (Global T20 Canada), there is not a lot of league cricket in Canada. So that could be a good step. But the league has to be good for the game, the players must be looked after and there must be some legacy for cricket in the country. It’s not going to be an open door for any promoter to come in. It’s going to be harder to get sanctions in the future.”
The other big issue in the game is the fate of Test cricket with four-day matches being suggested as a possible next step. South Africa played Zimbabwe in a four-day Test last year that ended in two days.
Allardice said that while it is an attractive option, the newly-formed World Test Championship (beginning in 2019) will continue to be a five-day affair while matches between ‘main’ teams and new entrants like Afghanistan and Ireland outside the Championship can be four-day affairs.
“In terms of Test cricket moving forward, all matches of the World Test Championship are scheduled over five days,” the former Victoria first-class cricketer added.
“At the moment, (it’s about) trying to get opportunities for Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in Test cricket against teams that are in the Test championship, from a fixturing point of view that works out better over four days than five.”
Allardice, however, doesn’t think four-day Tests will devalue the game as it is not a new concept.
“In terms of devaluing the game, regular five-day Tests is a relatively recent thing. If you go to the 1970s, New Zealand were playing mostly four-day Test matches. You talk of devaluing Test cricket, there is a lot of history that wasn’t based around the five-day game. The percentage was reasonable, we had rest days in the past. The game has evolved. We should not see in a narrow snapshot of time.”