'My wicket was the turning point' - Yousuf
Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf has shouldered the blame for Pakistan's shock 36-run defeat against Australia in Sydney, and has said his dismissal was the turning point of Pakistan's chase on the fourth afternoon.
After a disappointing morning session for the visitors, Australia set the visitors 176 to win their first Test in 15 years against them. Pakistan began the chase well, but lost wickets in clusters, a pattern similar to their failed, low-total chases in Sri Lanka and New Zealand last year. Salman Butt and Faisal Iqbal fell in the same over and just after tea Yousuf and Misbah-ul-Haq fell in the space of three balls to Nathan Hauritz.
It took a special return catch from Hauritz to dismiss him, but Yousuf called it a "pathetic" stroke. "My shot this afternoon was pathetic and it turned the game," he said. "Otherwise we would have won, not easily, but won. Yeah I blame myself."
Though they dominated for much of the Test, victory was never a sealed deal. Given the lack of Tests Pakistan have had over the last two years - and the lack of wins - questions can be asked of whether they even know how to win. Yousuf had complained previously of his batsmen being affected by playing too much limited-overs cricket and not enough Tests, a shortcoming that has become more apparent with each passing innings.
"We have to be professional and we have to perform," Yousuf said. "We have to take pressure, especially me, since I am very experienced and the rest are all young. I have to take them and carry the whole game. The same happened in first innings, we gave wickets away. We need more discipline, more patience and we need more batting sense. We didn't show that."
In the aftermath of another series loss to Australia - their fifth in a row - the spotlight will fall on Yousuf's defensive field settings this morning to Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle. The pair had put on 29 overnight and were allowed to take the partnership to 123, the highest for the ninth-wicket in contests between the two countries. At most stages, Yousuf had up to eight men on the boundary for Hussey, who waltzed to his 11th Test hundred. Siddle went on to his highest Test score of 38.
"We tried to contain Hussey and put pressure on Siddle. But he batted very well, didn't give us his wicket and batted two-and-a-half hours in the morning session to take the game away," Yousuf said.
There will also be scrutiny over the performance of Kamran Akmal, who dropped Hussey thrice and Siddle once, apart from failing with the bat. Yousuf defended Akmal after yesterday's performance and did so again today.
"Dropped catches are a part of the game," Yousuf said. "They batted very well after that. But it's difficult to win when you drop them. If we hadn't dropped catches we could have won it. We have dropped a lot over the last few months, but we can't help it. We try hard in practice."
Pakistan head to Hobart for the final Test, which is due to begin on January 14.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo