A miracle was what Pakistan needed desperately, and in the end it didn’t arrive as Australia romped their way to a second straight win by an innings to seal the series by 2-0.
Having started the penultimate day of the Adelaide Test at 39-3, Pakistan were ultimately bowled out for 239 runs with Nathan Lyon picking up his 16th five-for to complete the job for the hosts. It means that Australia have added 120 valuable World Test Championship points to their kitty while Pakistan have now fallen to their 14th-consecutive Test loss Down Under.
At the end of a defeat by an innings and 48 runs for Pakistan, we cast a look at the key talking points from Adelaide Oval.
Shafiq, Masood offer brief resistance for visitors
Australia were made to dig deep once again with Pakistan mustering some resistance in the form of Asad Shafiq and Shah Masood. Continuing from where they left off on Day Three, the two overnight batsmen were adventurous in their approach on the penultimate day and took the attack to the Aussie bowlers.
It was Masood who dominated proceedings in the first session with the left-hander bringing up his sixth Test fifty in elegant style. The Pakistan opener crashed eight boundaries and a six in his 68-run knock which was finally ended by Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Once Masood fell, it was Shafiq who took over the attack with the 33-year-old registering his third Test fifty in Australia and first at the Adelaide Oval. The fourth-wicket partnership between Masood and Shafiq yielded 103 with Australia’s bowlers frustrated for large parts of the first session,
Unfortunately for Pakistan, both the batsmen failed to kick on from their respective half-centuries with Shafiq departing soon after getting to his landmark. With Lyon in his elements in his favourite hunting ground, the rest of the Pakistan unit collapsed quickly even though wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan battled his way in a 45-run knock
Aussies are a force once again
It might only be Pakistan, who have been abject in Australia for five straight tours now, but Australia can feel really pleased with the manner in which they dispatched their opponents. Once the side to beat in Test cricket, Australia’s stock had fallen considerably in the last year with Steve Smith and David Warner serving their ball-tampering suspensions.
Falling to their first-ever Test series defeat to India at the start of the year was confirmation that they were starting to lose their sheen. However, they are starting to look their former selves once again with the returns of Smith and Warner while Marnus Labuschagne has started to carve a name for himself as one to watch for the next decade.
Their pace attack remains one an elite one with Pat Cummins leading the line and even Mitchell Starc is starting to look the part with the red ball. Their displays in the Ashes in England and now against Pakistan at home show that they are on the right path once again, and more than a match for any team in Test cricket.
The most heartening aspect for head coach Justin Langer will be the fact that Australia were so dominant, despite Smith failing to fire in both Brisbane and Adelaide.
Misbah’s Pakistan are in shambles
While Australia’s credentials will be put to a firm test next week by their high-flying Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, Pakistan will return home with their tails tucked between the legs after an abject capitulation.
A two-match series on home soil awaits Misbah-ul-Haq and his men in the coming days, though they will need to conduct a thorough autopsy of their Australia humiliation first. The future does look bright for Babar Azam who has had his Test reputation significantly enhanced, but the outlook of the team as a whole is a bleak one.
An ageing captain, a limp batting unit and an inexperienced bowling line-up are just some of the problems that exist in the Pakistan squad and even a home victory over Sri Lanka will not paper over those deficiencies in the long term.
If Pakistan are to make a serious charge in the ICC World Test Championship, then they have a massive rebuilding job on their hands. Although they do not have time to ponder for now with the Sri Lanka clashes approaching soon, the squad is in need of a big overhaul and the management will need to scour the domestic circuit to identify more talents for depth.
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