Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2010

Pakistan played like they did not believe

Never at any point did Pakistan believe they could win this Test and for that alone they deserved the sorry fate that befell them at the SCG
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Pakistan's grip on this Test was going the minute they took a 206-run lead in the first innings. This morning, with Australia effectively 80 for 8 they knew they had lost it. Hollywood rehab clinics have fewer mental frailties than this side.

Like in Melbourne last week, never at any point did Pakistan believe they could win this Test and for that alone they deserved the sorry fate that befell them at the SCG. Publicly Australia spoke yesterday as if they could win this. Pakistan, publicly and privately, only wished they could win this.

The morning session was bizarre and instructive, possibly the worst session of leadership of a side in such a dominant position. Sides giving up 200-plus leads in Tests had only won five times ever after all. But Mohammad Yousuf thought Michael Hussey was Bradman and Peter Siddle that Bradman of tailenders, Jason Gillespie, and that Australia were 700 for 3. Effectively they were 80 for 8, Hussey had been dropped thrice and Pakistan began with eight men on the boundary. A more winning lost cause is difficult to conjure.

Yousuf has surprised people with his leadership here, but today was the worst of him; defensive, unimaginative, sluggish and unwilling to take risk. Inzamam-ul-Haq's beard is there and maybe the worst of his captaincy spirit was also floating around. From there, whatever the chase, the writing was being written on the wall.

And then nothing matters in these chases for Pakistan; people talk of flat pitches, overhead conditions, surviving the new ball and playing out the old. But the only thing that matters is that it's them. They could be chasing 90 on cement, with a tennis ball and in 45 degrees heat, but this batting line-up will find a way to get out for less. Who the opponent was didn't really matter. They were called Panickstan here once, long ago. A regurgitation is in order.

Three times this year they have done it - in Sri Lanka, in New Zealand and now. This will hurt the most because it isn't every day that you dominate Australia, any Australia side, for three days and lose on the last. Australia, any Australia side, still know how to win and more importantly they know how not to throw matches away. Their players are brought up doing it. Peter Siddle's innings is shining testament to that ethic. Pakistan's tail presents a sorry contrast. Pakistan know simply how to play well every now and again, not to win, or avoid losing. That might never come and if it does it will take time.

The Test was lost at many other stages and that is the wretchedness of Pakistan's cricket that they could've won it still. They should've shut out Australia with their first innings, instead batting like lemons and not posting an insurmountable lead. Yousuf keeps talking about how much Twenty20 cricket is destroying Pakistan's batsmen and with the kind of batting seen here - not least his own dismissals - it is a persuasive argument.

Kamran Akmal dropped the Test four times himself through the second innings. He has been better this last year but he should've been dropped a few years ago; if he keeps getting selected, there is every chance now and again this may happen. His batting was crucial in New Zealand, but it's been ill-judged here. Misbah-ul-Haq, Faisal Iqbal - should they really be in this line-up?

And yet still it boggles the mind. It will do for many days. Knowing all this, feeling all along that they may lose this, to see it play itself out as it did is deeply affecting. To watch such an implosion, from such a position, can break you. Who knows what living it can do. Still the question: how have they lost it? Everyone knows but nobody understands, least of all the side itself.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Govindrajan on January 8, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    I am an Indian who admired the never say die spirit of Pakistani test teams, particularly in the Eighties and Nineties - when THEY used to come back from behind and win matches. Against India, they have been 30 odd for 6 on two occasions in the first innings - and won both those matches. Given their past record, these reversals in New Zealand and now at Sydney are disappointing.

  • Ahmed_Chaudhry on January 8, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for finally being someone sggesting that Faisal Iqbal has no place in the team and had none ever. The guys has been included in the side time and again and played crucial of the matches, but, not a single match winning performance, not single inning where his contribution could even be said to have put it Pakistan in a winning position The only time he "plays" is when its not needed or when the team is not evn close to a pressure situation.

    My heart still pours out for Misbah though, but I do believe he needs to be out of the team now. Its sad how late he was included in the Pakistani team and wasted when he was at the peak of his career taking care of Pakistan A Team. Yet another example of timely talent being wasted by PCB and uncle Inzy.

  • Ahmed_Chaudhry on January 8, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for finally being someone sggesting that Faisal Iqbal has no place in the team and had none ever. The guys has been included in the side time and again and played crucial of the matches, but, not a single match winning performance, not single inning where his contribution could even be said to have put it Pakistan in a winning position The only time he "plays" is when its not needed or when the team is not evn close to a pressure situation.

    My heart still pours out for Misbah though, but I do believe he needs to be out of the team now. Its sad how late he was included in the Pakistani team and wasted when he was at the peak of his career taking care of Pakistan A Team. Yet another example of timely talent being wasted by PCB and Inzy.

  • rafehsheikh on January 8, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    This is totally disgraceful for Pakistan team. This is not the first time that they have flopped in the 2nd innings. They have already done it 3 times this years and it will continue for many more years if we don't change our system. We must have separate teams for T20, Test & ODIs. And Muhammad Yousaf again proved that he is not the right man for captaincy .Having 7 fielders on boundary when Australia were on 80-8 was totally ridiculous.

  • cric_fan1 on January 8, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    If any country in the world can lose a match from a winning position, its Pakistan. They were in the driving seat despite all the cock-ups in the field and they did perform well with the bat in the first innings. However, I just cannot understand the body language of the players on the morning of day four. They all looked like they were already beaten. Its beyond imagination how they have failed to chase down 3 low scores in the last 12 months despite all of the problems back home.

    It was really painful watching the team humiliate themselves and their supporters around the world. This side showed no self-belief, apart from Umar Akmal, who has been brilliant since the NZ tour. Pakistani fans around the world have seen such shameful displays in the past, remember the World Cup Final in 1999? Its not the first time and certainly will not be the last I am sorry to say. The batting needs a new array of talent.

  • lloydzima on January 8, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    I am a West Indian and was backing pakistan to win. I find this lost hard to swallow. Fist of all, I don't think it was soley Yousuf's decision to set what amounts to be such an' unimaginable lack of common sense' field placing on the fourth morning when Australia were effectively 80 for 8. It had to be sanctioned by those so called "management team' in the pavallion. Becuase I don't think for one moment that Yousuf can be so Stupid as to set 8 fielders around the boundry at the start of play.With regards to Ijaz Butt and company in Pakistan a prompt investigation should be conducted as to why Butt's failure to send the willing and the best current Pakistan batsman Younnis Khan to Australia beats me. As a Pakistan outsider, I think this is tantamount to treason and he should be subjected to interrogation to say the least.As a West Indian I feel for the Pakistanis at home and abroad and also to those cricket followers who were supporting Pakistan to win. What an opportunity. LloydB

  • no_second_chance_for_batsman on January 7, 2010, 23:57 GMT

    what was the hurry to chase down 170+ score... the openers could have grinded australians .... and could have won easily taking there own time in world. lets see 50 overs on 4th day and 90 overs on 5th day... I DON'T feel SORRY for Pakistan players -- where is the will to win ??? PCB has to wake up before its too late...I give credit to Yousuf that he took the blame for the defeat..but cmon its a team game. What about SOS sent to bring in Younis khan??? what a shame...

  • JamJar on January 7, 2010, 23:50 GMT

    Disgraeful; spineless, a complete sham. A fist in the guts of their supporters; no team can do it like Pakistan. Its takene me days to bear the courage and write these words. Pakistan's performance and the manner of their defeat is enough to make anyone take early retirement from being a Pak fan. Quite frankyl, there are better things to do than throw our weight behind this sorry lot.

    I actually thought Yousuf was doing surprisingly well as skipper but the final day of the test showed the timid nature of Pakistan. I'd still like to see him as skipper, but dropping Akmal as wicketkeeper is a must and surely now the PCB must see this? Or do they all need to be sectioned?

  • ihaq1 on January 7, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    his batting keeps saving kamran akmal from the axe apart from an era of troubling selections and politics..maybe they should play kamran akmal as a pure batter and bring in another keeper...at the moment pakistan has no great batsman in teh side and umar akmal is just a potential great...it is such matches that great players need to show their capability...possibilitybof palying kamaran akmal up the order as the openers and one down position is open...could try misbah as an opener...nobody thought that mohammed sami would eliver but he bowled well at teh start...umar gul seemed to bowl as if injured an danish kaneria's injury on the pemultimate day seemed a bit contrived even though he bowled well...captain might not be paying for good bowling methinks...cricket players many say are just as good as their history or even below that as in teh vcase of salman butt

  • ihaq1 on January 7, 2010, 23:36 GMT

    one must say mohd yusuf saved ricky pontings neck...he made a bad decision to bat first on a green surface...why pakistan batted like novices in teh second innings is difficult to imagine...the openers who were careful in teh first innings did not seem good enough in teh second...same goes for faisal iqbal..mohammed yusuf must realize that he is in teh team as teh star batsman apart from umar akmal who was looking to sell his wicket...teh akmals are now champions of dropped catches...umar akmal has dropped two sitters and kamran akmal dropped three off just Hussey...maybe they should ask a batsman to keep against spinners..akmal has dropped 15 catches over the last three years just against kaneria...we thought that kamram akmal would now not drop catches but he does it at the most crucial of times...pakistan needs to groom at least two top order batters...in matches when watson and hauritz and siddle can bat than so should the likes of our openers.

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