Australia dismiss Mohammad Hafeez in late bid to stop Pakistan onslaught
Australia cricket team Australia dismiss Mohammad Hafeez in late bid to stop Pakistan onslaught
â¢ Dubai Test (day one of five): Pakistan first innings 255-3
â¢ Peter Siddle lifts Australia by halting Hafeez on 126
In many ways Australiaâs October Test in Dubai is the closing bookend to their March Test in Johannesburg. Tim Paine, their captain, would prefer it was not. He h as said plenty of times recently that he would like to leave behind Australiaâs ill-starred tour to South Africa earlier this year. But the connection is inevitable, given the current trip to the United Arab Emirates is for Australiaâs first Test matches since the ball-tampering scandal six months ago.
But even with six months between outings, as the Dubai match began it seemed to be following directly on from the one preceding it. In Johannesburg a patchwork Australian team was rapidly and comprehensively unstitched. No other result was realistic after three players had been suspended for cheating. A week of sleepless nights and worldwide condemnation took their toll. The replacement players had either flown over from Australia on a dayâs notice or come off the bench after months of no cricket.
South Africaâs players were supportive and generous off the field and ruthless on it. They did not grind Australia into the dirt; they left Australia subterranean. They batted for five sessions, rolled the tourists in two, then batted most of another two days. They racked up a lead of over 600 and won by just under 500. Their batting was eternal, Australiaâs bowlers toiling until most of them could barely walk. It was a case of one set of players making the other do their bidding.
Things in Dubai started the same way. The pitch looked uniform, a rich Benaud beige, with no mark or crack or foliage that stood out. It could have been a vat of custard poured out in the sun and left to dry. That sun was brutal, pushing up towards 40 degrees. Pakistan won the toss and naturally elected to bat.
For a bare few overs Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle got a bit of carry and seam movement respectively with the new ball. After half a dozen overs the new ball handed in its resignation. Nothing from that moment would do anything but bounce straight on.
Enjoying these conditions were Imam-ul-Haq, the young nephew of Pakistanâs famous capta in Inzamam, and the recalled Mohammad Hafeez, a player so old that he played 10 Tests with Inzamam. Hafeez had been recalled to the side at the age of 37 after a red-hot streak in domestic cricket and some vigorous lobbying of selectors. âI love this format,â he told Wisdenâs radio commentary broadcast after play. âIâm personally a fan of Test cricket. I really wanted to continue in Test cricket, because it challenges you a lot as a batsman and a player.â
He did not disappoint, batting carefully through the first session for a composed 48, then opening up after the lunch break with some of the more attacking shots for which he is known. In the meantime Imam played quietly at the other end, with occasional charges down the pitch to Australiaâs spinners.
He did not always look in control but he has yet to be dismissed in Test cricket coming down the pitch. The second session was one of milestones, as both batsmen raised their fifties before Hafeez moved pas t a hundred. He began to live by the sword as he approached his major milestone, slashing at Starc and using the bowlerâs pace for three edged boundaries. But with slip catchers long dispensed with, there was little actual risk.India earn record Test win over West Indies as England match is washed out Read more
Starc bowled fiercely throughout, never letting his pace drop despite the heat. Lyon was accurate but had little to work with from the surface. The left-arm spinner Jon Holland struggled in the first session, perhaps nervous on his recall to the side for his third career Test, as he bowled either side of the wicket and was clattered by Hafeez off an early full toss.
It was another of those Johannesburg-style days, all toil and no reward. A tea score of 199 for none was dire. The span of 61 overs was the longest any team had held Australia wicketless to start a Test.
The double-century partnership came up just after the break. But it ende d at 205, when Lyon finally found Imamâs edge as the batsman tried to cut on 76, and a fightback began.
In the main it was about strangling runs. And it was about Siddle. The two were synonymous. By dayâs end his 15 overs had conceded 23. This is the hard work Siddle is willing to do. For so long he was the beating heart of the Australian team but then he was transplanted. Through Steve Smithâs years of captaincy, as things in the team went awry, Siddle played only two Tests.
Now he was back and it was not just about toil. One Test veteran returning to his national team removed another, Siddle inducking the ball to nail Hafeez on the front pad for 126. The ball had started to reverse, and Siddle extracted more movement with that ball than any ball either he or Starc had bowled that day. Though not noted for the skill, it is one Siddle has long possessed.
âUsually if thereâs three fast bowlers, Iâm not always the one who gets the first use of it,â h e suggested as a reason for that lack of reputation. âSo Iâm not always getting the best opportunities. But I think today I was lucky it was coming on at the right time.â Strike off luck and chalk up ability.
But Australia deserved some luck as well, and got some when the long-innings specialist Azhar Ali tried to take on Holland with six overs left and found Starc at mid-off. All the Pakistani batsmen had targeted Holland, wanting to hit him out of the attack to destabilise Australia, but it cost them their long-innings specialist for 18.
Pakistan will certainly have the upper hand on day two, resuming at 255 with three wickets down, and the nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas at the crease to have a swing. But the way Australia were able to wrest back control, taking three for 56 in the final session, showed that at least for a while the shades of Johannesburg had ebbed away.Topics
- Australia cricket team
- Pakistan cricket team
- Australia sport
- match reports
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