Before the start of the Tests against Australia, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's only aim was to attain consistency and let the results follow. Things went to plan as Pakistan dominated nearly every session of the series, winning the first match by 221 runs and the second by 356 runs, their largest margin of victory in Tests in terms of runs.
On paper, Pakistan had an inexperienced bowling line-up before the Australia series. Key players like Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan were missing. Rahat Ali and Zulfiqar Babar had played a handful of Tests between between them and legspinner Yasir Shah and pacer Imran Khan made their debuts in the first Test in Dubai. By the end of the series, Yasir and Zulfiqar led the attack, sharing 26 wickets to dismantle Australia.
Given their run of poor form, specially the 2-0 series loss to Sri Lanka in August, one question that dominated Pakistan's post-match press conference was: "How did the side manage a result suddenly after such poor form recently against Sri Lanka?" One of the suggestions going around was that it was the influence of 'Viki Bhai', as coach Waqar Younis is sometimes addressed, but Misbah also pointed to the positive attitude of the players.
"We got belief. That's why we delivered," Misbah said. "Every bowler performed and the way we played as a batting unit, you could say there was belief somewhere.
"Obviously, it looked difficult without Saeed Ajmal and [Abdur] Rehman, and seamers like Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan. It looked a bit difficult but I think considering these sort of conditions and the way Australians were struggling against spin even in India we still fancied our chances and [thought] that we could do well; if we posted good totals, our bowling is still capable of getting them out. Everybody really performed well, specially the bowling unit. They are inexperienced but the way they performed was remarkable.
"Even before the series, I talked about these guys and said they were experienced because Yasir Shah had been bowling well at the domestic level. I know when he gets pitches like this, with turn and bounce, he can really produce these sort of performances. And everyone knows that Zulfiqar Babar has performed on a regular basis and he is a mature bowler. That's the luxury of having these sort of bowlers even in your second string when Saeed Ajmal and Rehman are not there.
"I also want to mention the contribution of the two fast bowlers. Imran Khan did very well. In both Tests, at the right time, he provided us with the breakthrough and Rahat Ali also bowled really well specially in the last innings. He had fever and he was feeling lethargic but he still produced good spells."
Misbah also credited the team's work ethic and discipline for the turnaround. "The secret is simple: we had good work ethics, we had good discipline in our cricket - in batting and bowling - and the team was very focused and determined. I think the biggest thing in this series was that, you name anybody, any of the players in both Tests, you will see that every player has made an important contribution and this is the sign of a team effort," he said.
The series win was their first against Australia in 20 years and their first since a 3-0 sweep against England in 2011-12. With another Test series, against New Zealand, on the horizon for Pakistan, Misbah stressed that the team would guard against complacency. He was also pleased that Pakistan had a busy schedule before the 2015 World Cup, allowing the side to carry form and confidence from this series ahead.
"I am confident that we will play good cricket against New Zealand, and we should play that way," he said. "There is confidence in the side and not a weak link that you can see. The batsmen are in good form, the bowlers are delivering. Given that we are playing in the same conditions, we are confident that we can perform well.
"The most important thing as a player and as a team is confidence. If you play like this against a top team in Tests and then if you have to play a one-day, that form goes with you. It's the right time for us to play cricket continuously until the World Cup. After a lay-off of four months, when we travelled to Sri Lanka, it was difficult for us to get back in form and now we are in form and playing cricket continuously and the kind of confidence we have, it's the right time to play cricket."