Australia v Pakistan, Test series review January 18, 2010

Australia all the way

Pakistan had a chance but blew it, and overall Australia completely dominated in all aspects in the three-Test series which ended in another whitewash for the visitors

Played 12, lost 12. That's how Pakistan's record reads against Australia over the last decade and a bit. They've threatened to pull off an upset more than once during this period, but Australia have won all the key moments. The trend was repeated in the most recent series, with Pakistan collapsing in astonishing fashion in Sydney. The first and third Tests were utter routs, which is why Australia are so far ahead in the overall series stats. They averaged 17 more runs per wicket, and scored five hundreds to Pakistan's one. Five Australian batsmen averaged more than 50, while Salman Butt, Pakistan's best, averaged 46.67. Only three other batsmen averaged more than 30, of whom two played only the last Test. (Click here for more details.) Pakistan did manage more five-fors than Australia, but that's because the Australians mostly shared the wickets around, with all the bowlers chipping in.

Australia and Pakistan in the three-Test series
Team Runs scored Wkts taken Bat average 100/ 50s 5WI/ 10WM
Australia 1925 60 41.84 5/ 7 2/ 0
Pakistan 1488 46 24.80 1/ 7 3/ 0

The difference is vast in terms of partnerships as well. Traditionally, Pakistan have struggled with their opening combination, but in this series, the first wicket stands were the most productive: in six innings Imran Farhat and Butt put together a century and a half-century stand, and averaged 43.50. The only other partnership that managed an average of 40 was the fifth wicket, the highlight of which was the 129-run stand between Butt and Shoaib Malik in the Hobart Test.

For Butt, it was a second successful trip to Australia, following on the one in 2004-05. His running between the wickets gave Pakistan plenty of grief, but Butt still managed an average of 46.67, easily the highest for Pakistan. In six Tests in Australia, he averages 42.08, well above his career average of 30.96.

However, the middle order was a huge disappointment, with the captain being the biggest letdown. The average partnerships for the second, third and fourth wickets were all less than 30, which means Australia usually had an opportunity to attack the lower middle order fairly early.

Overall, Pakistan had only two century stands, compared to six by Australia. The home team's top two wickets put together solid partnerships, with both averaging more than 50. Watson, combining with Simon Katich and Philip Hughes, added two century partnerships for the first wicket, while the 191-run stand between Katich and Ricky Ponting in the Hobart Test lifted the overall second-wicket average to 53.67. The fourth-wicket pair was even more prolific, with the 352-run stand between Ponting and Michael Clarke in Hobart leading the way.

The return to form for Michael Hussey was perhaps the most significant gain for Australia. Hussey also played arguably the most crucial innings of the series, scoring a century and bailing Australia out when all had seemed lost in Sydney. During that innings he was also involved in a century stand for the ninth wicket, which lifted the overall partnership average for that wicket to 67.

Average partnerships for each wicket for both teams
Wicket Aus - average 100/ 50 stands Pak - average 100/ 50 stands
First 55.50 2/ 0 43.50 1/ 1
Second 53.67 1/ 1 27.33 0/ 1
Third 19.67 0/ 1 27.67 0/ 1
Fourth 106.83 2/ 2 28.33 0/ 1
Fifth 23.33 0/ 1 40.00 1/ 1
Sixth 18.75 0/ 0 23.83 0/ 0
Seventh 13.75 0/ 0 20.16 0/ 1
Eighth 24.00 0/ 0 8.16 0/ 0
Ninth 67.00 1/ 0 10.33 0/ 0
Tenth 5.50 0/ 0 18.67 0/ 1

Head-to-head contests

Mohammad Asif was Pakistan's leading wicket-taker, but even his numbers were skewed - he was outstanding against left-handers, but couldn't manage as much success against the right-handers. He dismissed only six right-handers at a cost of 40 each, which was more than twice his average against the left-handers.

Mohammad Asif v right- and left-handers
  Balls Runs Dismissals Average
Right-handers 520 243 6 40.50
Left-handers 290 124 7 17.71

The break-up of Asif's stats against each batsman indicates Simon Katich and Marcus North had the most trouble against him. Katich fell three times to him, while North was dismissed twice in 13 deliveries. On the other hand, Watson didn't fall to him even once 170 balls, while Ponting averaged 86 against him.

Mohammad Asif v Australian batsmen
Batsman Balls Runs Dismissals Average
Shane Watson 170 81 0 -
Ricky Ponting 136 86 1 86.00
Michael Hussey 116 42 1 42.00
Michael Clarke 116 40 2 20.00
Simon Katich 85 55 3 18.33
Marcus North 13 2 2 1.00

Nathan Hauritz was the leading wicket-taker of the series, and he achieved plenty of success against the right-handers, averaging 19.60 against them. His 18 wickets came at 23.05 apiece, but a fair number of his wickets were those of the lower-order batsmen - he dismissed Nos 8-11 ten times. The two top-order batsmen who fared best against him were Butt and Umar Akmal, who between them scored 133 runs without being dismissed.

Nathan Hauritz against right- and left-handers
  Balls Runs Dismissals Average
Right-handers 439 294 15 19.60
Left-handers 297 104 3 34.67

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo