Pak v Aus, 2nd MCC Spirit of Cricket Test, Headingley, 1st day July 21, 2010

Swinging Asif and Aamer demolish Australia

27

It would be an injustice to Pakistan if we said that the Australian batsmen looked vulnerable. It was the beauty of Pakistan's three-man fast-bowling pack that made the opponent look utterly helpless. And how beautifully they went on to unravel the Australians, who for the second time in two Tests failed to stand up to sustained pressure.

Just like at Lord's the overcast conditions were tailor-made for swing and seam bowling and Ricky Ponting's decision to bat first - Umar Gul called the move "shocking" - made Pakistan's fast men lick their lips. Mohammad Aamer needed only 14 balls to work out Simon Katich, Australia's Player of the Match in the first Test, as he targeted the batsman's trigger movement to shuffle across his crease. The ploy exposes his leg stump and also makes him a leg-before candidate, which is how Aamer struck.

Mohammad Asif, who has an envious fast-bowling IQ, caught the clay-footed Shane Watson leg before and then began his mental harassment of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. Like an ace matador, Asif tempted the duo to take him on as he fine-tuned his lengths and teased with swing and seam movement.

Twice across two overs, Asif bowled the two best deliveries on the day - both pitching on McGrath lengths, straightening and beating Ponting completely. Ponting is most nervous at the beginning of his innings as he lunges forward in an ungainly fashion trying to put bat to ball. Asif remained patient as he kept flashing the red cloth, confident that he was on the verge of taming Ponting. Headingley is one of Ponting's favourite hunting grounds - he has two centuries and two fifties in three Tests - but that reputation did not matter to Asif. The same held true for Aamer and Umar Gul.

At the moment when Salman Butt, making his captaincy debut, replaced Gul with Aamer it felt like an abrupt decision and a mistake. But with Asif tightening the noose at the other end Butt understood it was best to introduce Gul, who is a rhythm bowler and takes time to hit his lengths. It was a wise move as Gul ripped through the large gate between Clarke's bat and pad to damage his middle stump. Australia, normally adept at blasting the opponent and regaining control, failed miserably thereafter.

This assault was not incidental. In his last five Tests, Asif has dismissed Katich and Marcus North four times each, and got rid of Clarke and Ponting three times. Aamer has had Ponting's number on three occasions since December and Gul has got the better of Clarke, Michael Hussey and Watson twice.

This Australian batting line-up is not the best when it is bottled for long periods. Unfortunately for them, the Pakistan fast bowlers have the mental discipline, patience and skills to disintegrate the elite batsmen consistently. It looks like they have the psychological edge over Australia.

Australia's coach Tim Nielsen disagreed. "[We were] not dominated at all," Nielsen said. "They are a quality bowling attack. They have got pace. It is just a good contest."

Nielsen did give credit to Asif and Co for taking control and maintaining it. "I can't take anything away from Pakistan," he said. "They bowled with good pace and tremendous length and line and really did put us under pressure and once we got behind the game we just struggled to change it."

Pakistan were helped by the favourable conditions, but not many teams have been able to maintain the pressure lid tight on Australia. Despite being the underdogs, Pakistan have not choked. They have held their head high despite the defeat at Lord's and the abrupt retirement of Shahid Afridi. They walked into Headingley with a positive mind and a clear vision before dismantling the opponent without breaking sweat.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • habeeb_imran786 on July 22, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    1st Test also they bowled very well but due to lack of experience batsman they lost it. and the decission made by Shahid Afridi was funny if they have won that test he will not be retired. now in 2nd test Asif and Amer bowl excellent what afridi is thinking now .... he want to become again captain. Shoaib malik Should take the responsiblity of captain.

  • on July 22, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    Pakistan have been producing quality bowlers over the last 30 years and I believed that Pakistan had the best bowling attack at any point in time in these 30 years. Unfortunately Pakistan have been unable to transform raw batting talent into more robust batsmen who could stand on the wicket. It is no longer the test of skills but the test of character in today's modern cricket and Pakistani batsmen need to learn to adapt to this changing battle of nerves.

  • UmairTariq on July 22, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    Very true!! Pakistan have shown the talent they have in quality fast bowling. If they dig down into the domestic setup. I believe they can find plenty of talent batmen as well.... Its just a matter of giving RIGHT people chances in the domestic setup.

  • on July 22, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    Altast Aussies beleive that they did not dminate the game. unlike clarke who took the creidt away from UMAR AKMAL during the first t20.

  • Woody111 on July 22, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    All credit to Pakistan. Their bowling is consistently good and they deserve all the wickets they're picking up. The batting is looking more disciplined this time around too. Alot will depend on what Umar Akmal's state of mind is. He has the potential of breaking Aus' back with his bat if he bats intelligently. Good test for him and the rest of the batters.

  • cheeseburgers on July 22, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    Asif and Aamer - the nxt pair after Waqar-Wasim !!!

  • sharprider on July 22, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Excellently analysed, this really sums up the tussle between 'David and Goliath' (Pakistan and Australia), which has been going on for some time now. Evidently, there is currently more focus on the Pakistani team (for obvious reasons viz. captaincy and absence of senior players, etc.) but people should start questioning the professed 'superiority' complex of the Australians, especially in light of their recent performances against England and Pakistan.

  • on July 22, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    While I was dismayed byAustralia's score when I woke up this morning, after seeing the highlights it seems there was really not much they could do against a Pakistant bowling line-up that was really firing on all cylinders. I never like to see my own team/country make such a paltry total, but I can't feel too miffed when it's the result of some absolutely sublime bowling. Full credit to Pakistan, you don't often see bowlers dominate like this any more. This is what makes test cricket such a compelling spectacle...

  • tick on July 22, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    if pakistan can get a good not excellent batting line up to compliment with best pace attack at the moment..they will surely win 60 percent test matches..no doubt..

  • on July 22, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    LOL @ not dominated at all....just LOL

    88/10, someone show him the scorecard. Australia were dominated only like they were dominated by the West Indian bowling attack 3 decades ago!

  • habeeb_imran786 on July 22, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    1st Test also they bowled very well but due to lack of experience batsman they lost it. and the decission made by Shahid Afridi was funny if they have won that test he will not be retired. now in 2nd test Asif and Amer bowl excellent what afridi is thinking now .... he want to become again captain. Shoaib malik Should take the responsiblity of captain.

  • on July 22, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    Pakistan have been producing quality bowlers over the last 30 years and I believed that Pakistan had the best bowling attack at any point in time in these 30 years. Unfortunately Pakistan have been unable to transform raw batting talent into more robust batsmen who could stand on the wicket. It is no longer the test of skills but the test of character in today's modern cricket and Pakistani batsmen need to learn to adapt to this changing battle of nerves.

  • UmairTariq on July 22, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    Very true!! Pakistan have shown the talent they have in quality fast bowling. If they dig down into the domestic setup. I believe they can find plenty of talent batmen as well.... Its just a matter of giving RIGHT people chances in the domestic setup.

  • on July 22, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    Altast Aussies beleive that they did not dminate the game. unlike clarke who took the creidt away from UMAR AKMAL during the first t20.

  • Woody111 on July 22, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    All credit to Pakistan. Their bowling is consistently good and they deserve all the wickets they're picking up. The batting is looking more disciplined this time around too. Alot will depend on what Umar Akmal's state of mind is. He has the potential of breaking Aus' back with his bat if he bats intelligently. Good test for him and the rest of the batters.

  • cheeseburgers on July 22, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    Asif and Aamer - the nxt pair after Waqar-Wasim !!!

  • sharprider on July 22, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Excellently analysed, this really sums up the tussle between 'David and Goliath' (Pakistan and Australia), which has been going on for some time now. Evidently, there is currently more focus on the Pakistani team (for obvious reasons viz. captaincy and absence of senior players, etc.) but people should start questioning the professed 'superiority' complex of the Australians, especially in light of their recent performances against England and Pakistan.

  • on July 22, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    While I was dismayed byAustralia's score when I woke up this morning, after seeing the highlights it seems there was really not much they could do against a Pakistant bowling line-up that was really firing on all cylinders. I never like to see my own team/country make such a paltry total, but I can't feel too miffed when it's the result of some absolutely sublime bowling. Full credit to Pakistan, you don't often see bowlers dominate like this any more. This is what makes test cricket such a compelling spectacle...

  • tick on July 22, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    if pakistan can get a good not excellent batting line up to compliment with best pace attack at the moment..they will surely win 60 percent test matches..no doubt..

  • on July 22, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    LOL @ not dominated at all....just LOL

    88/10, someone show him the scorecard. Australia were dominated only like they were dominated by the West Indian bowling attack 3 decades ago!

  • dmqi on July 22, 2010, 4:03 GMT

    Well written. Australia is a very good team, no doubt. But it is equally true that Pakistan messed up several chances in last few tests to beat them. It was poor play on the part of Pakistan not to be able to win than Australia's effort to turn loosing game to wining match. This time it could be different. Salman Butt said," Australia can be beaten" and that is the fact. Any team can beat them with a pace attack of Pakistan if the batsmen can support the bowlers efforts. It all depends now how Pak batsmen play in the 1st and second Innings. If Pakistan is charged up and remember how Australia won a match in which they trailed by 206 runs, they have a very good chance. Most likely Hussay or any other batsman will not be dropped 3 times to score big in this test. That will be the key.

  • on July 22, 2010, 2:53 GMT

    Australia have faltered in the 1st Innings and Pakistan have capitalised on it, but it is very unlikely that Australia will fail in the same manner in the 2nd Innings. Pakistan needs to get at least a 500+ score in the 1st Innings and to review their tactics and attack plan.

  • CuteBacha on July 22, 2010, 1:59 GMT

    Is it the right time to say" Pakistan replaced 2 W's with 2 A's"? All I want to say that PCB need to have faith in this young time. They need to Pick 18 Playes and just stick with them for 2 years. Selection board and the Chairman has to retain Salman Butt as a Captian for 2 year and please don't announce it officailly. After this tripe, Pakistan need to tour Australia, New Zeland, South Africa and West Indies atleast once. Off Course, a Tour to India and a Hoem Series in Abu Dabi won't hurt either.

  • Tahir_Khan on July 22, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    This again is a world class performance by the Pakistan attack, it has happened many times but poor batting display have let the team down so many times.I suport Pak team but I am still afraid if they do not take 250+ lead they may still be repeat of Sydney,I think Paki attack has bowled much better then the Aussies, it is Pakistan Batting which have made Aussie bowling look good.I bet with this bowling performance from their bowlers and if it were Sth Africa, Englad, India or Sri Lanka to bat against this Aussie attack, the Aussies surely would ve been on the loosing end at both Lords and Sydney and this test.Pakistan would idealy have Younis in the side and Akmal needs to know this is test match not 20 20 cricket, if he plays stupidly again as he did at Lords he must sit out in the next match so that he can learn something, same with his brother he needs to play for the team also, after being so set in the last match he played a shocking shot. Malik alos need to perform here.

  • sawjid on July 22, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    i hope pakistani players keep their heads up and put up a decen total.... that's the only way we can win this game.....!

  • on July 21, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    GO PAKISTAN!!!!! THE WHOLE NATION STANDS BEHIND YOU GUYS!!!

  • on July 21, 2010, 23:52 GMT

    I cannot believe this... what is their in Pakistan that makes them best and worst within the same week.

    Pakistan's pace attack is simply the best in the world. The young Aamer, the slingy Asif and the Death-y Gul. What a trio. Fast bowling at its best!

    Wish that Pakistan can play with this spirit all the way in the test and break their losing streak against Australia.

  • jamrith on July 21, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    No praise is high enough for Pakistan's bowling performance, great bowlers exploiting the conditions magnificently. The contrast with India could not be starker. India's bowling cupboard is absolutely bare and the batting is like an ancient dowager.

  • shakkw on July 21, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    They brought Memories of Wasim & Waqar Era.

  • hmia1001 on July 21, 2010, 22:38 GMT

    Aussies have had no answer to pak seam bowling!!!

  • Zahidsaltin on July 21, 2010, 22:32 GMT

    I think Pakistan has the best bowling attack among all test playing nations but they don't have a single batsman who can play a long innings. Those who have one of their better days score 30,s and 40,s in then give it all away. Their tail is also one of the worst in batting. All 4 bowlers cant bat. Had pakistan a couple of batsmen who could play long innings on fast wickets, they could be counted among the best 3 teams. Still any match involving Pakistan is a test to watch.

  • oczak on July 21, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    Asif is obviously one of Pakistan's all time greats. Fun to watch him bowl.

  • on July 21, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Nice bowling by Asif and Co. Not doubt on that. But need to wait how they are capitalizing this advantage. Nice Bowl.

  • on July 21, 2010, 21:38 GMT

    Need a good lead. And hopefully we can beat the Aussies by an Innings.

  • Pakipower786 on July 21, 2010, 21:36 GMT

    if only yousef and younis were in the batting team you could see them making a Ton. These lads make 40 and then get out!

  • rajputs on July 21, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    great work done by PAKISTAN, specially after along time captain was on song, SIGNIFICANTLY shuffling of bowlers was the MOMENT OF THE DAY,bringing on GULL nd showing faith on umar amin against North, nd then after lunch bringing on ammir were appropriate.then responsible and bit attacking batting hurt the mighty aussies and now if they try to play till TEA Pakistan will be on driving seat.

  • salmankhan1234 on July 21, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I hope Pakistan batting don't fail. There are players who can hit 30 or 40 odd runs but no one is capable of hitting a century at the moment. But good luck Pakistan all the way and win the match for Pakistani People.

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  • salmankhan1234 on July 21, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I hope Pakistan batting don't fail. There are players who can hit 30 or 40 odd runs but no one is capable of hitting a century at the moment. But good luck Pakistan all the way and win the match for Pakistani People.

  • rajputs on July 21, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    great work done by PAKISTAN, specially after along time captain was on song, SIGNIFICANTLY shuffling of bowlers was the MOMENT OF THE DAY,bringing on GULL nd showing faith on umar amin against North, nd then after lunch bringing on ammir were appropriate.then responsible and bit attacking batting hurt the mighty aussies and now if they try to play till TEA Pakistan will be on driving seat.

  • Pakipower786 on July 21, 2010, 21:36 GMT

    if only yousef and younis were in the batting team you could see them making a Ton. These lads make 40 and then get out!

  • on July 21, 2010, 21:38 GMT

    Need a good lead. And hopefully we can beat the Aussies by an Innings.

  • on July 21, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Nice bowling by Asif and Co. Not doubt on that. But need to wait how they are capitalizing this advantage. Nice Bowl.

  • oczak on July 21, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    Asif is obviously one of Pakistan's all time greats. Fun to watch him bowl.

  • Zahidsaltin on July 21, 2010, 22:32 GMT

    I think Pakistan has the best bowling attack among all test playing nations but they don't have a single batsman who can play a long innings. Those who have one of their better days score 30,s and 40,s in then give it all away. Their tail is also one of the worst in batting. All 4 bowlers cant bat. Had pakistan a couple of batsmen who could play long innings on fast wickets, they could be counted among the best 3 teams. Still any match involving Pakistan is a test to watch.

  • hmia1001 on July 21, 2010, 22:38 GMT

    Aussies have had no answer to pak seam bowling!!!

  • shakkw on July 21, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    They brought Memories of Wasim & Waqar Era.

  • jamrith on July 21, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    No praise is high enough for Pakistan's bowling performance, great bowlers exploiting the conditions magnificently. The contrast with India could not be starker. India's bowling cupboard is absolutely bare and the batting is like an ancient dowager.