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Pakistan were expected to mount a more serious challenge to Australia's hegemony of the international game than New Zealand had a month earlier. In the event, however, they were beaten with equal ease by the world champions, who won all three Tests inside four days despite losing the toss each time. Pakistan did manage to start every Test promisingly, only to fall away with numbing predictability - never more so than at Perth, where they were skittled in the equivalent of just over a session in their second innings. Australia's winning margin of 491 runs was the biggest in terms of runs in a Test since the Second World War.
Pakistan's young touring party had arrived in Australia as early as the end of November to give themselves plenty of time to get used to Perth's notorious extra bounce and pace. But the preparation did not go well: they were bowled out for 83 in pursuit of 94 to be humbled by Western Australia's Second XI. And against the full state side they lost by ten wickets. After the debacle in the First Test at Perth, their captain Inzamam-ul-Haq complained that his players had needed even longer to prepare. But the reality was that, with their poor techniques against the rising ball on a quick pitch, no amount of time would have made much difference.
The gamble of playing only six batsmen at Perth to allow room for a fifth bowler also backfired, and collapses were a recurrent theme. However, Pakistan were highly unfortunate that, against such unforgiving opposition, Inzamam, their best batsman, was ruled out of the last two Tests with a back problem. And by the time the touring party got to Sydney for the third game, the injury list had grown: Abdul Razzaq went to hospital during the third day's play at Melbourne with dizziness reported to be caused by eating too much spinach, while other casualties included Mohammad Sami, who suffered severe bruising to the heel, and Shoaib Malik, who split the webbing in his hand. It was an unhappy tour for Malik, the off-spinner whose action was deemed to be in need of remedial action after it was filmed at 250 frames per second by the specialist unit at the University of Western Australia. The findings were not reported to the ICC until after the series, but Pakistan elected not to bowl him at Melbourne.
Fitness problems also afflicted their spearhead Shoaib Akhtar at Sydney, where he was restricted by a sore hamstring to 15 overs out of 133. With the help of Sami, Akhtar had given Australia a fright on the opening day of the series by reducing them to 78 for five. Not for the first time, Adam Gilchrist, later described as "a genius" by the Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, came to the rescue with the first of three important innings. Justin Langer also compiled his second big score in successive Tests to go clear as the leading run-scorer in Test cricket in 2004; he finished with 1,481 at a shade under 55. Damien Martyn, who was named Man of the Series, finished second in that list: two hundreds in this series gave him six for the calendar year and a total of 1,353 runs at 56. That represented a remarkable turnaround by Martyn, whose previous Test century had been in the 2001-02 season in South Africa. Conversely, Ricky Ponting, after his extraordinary year in 2003, when he averaged 100 in Tests, failed to score a century in 2004, although he began 2005 with a double-hundred at Sydney. Matthew Hayden, meanwhile, became the first man to make 1,000 Test runs in four successive calendar years.
Match reports for
Tour Match: Western Australia Second XI v Pakistanis at Perth, Dec 1-3, 2004
Tour Match: Western Australia Second XI v Pakistanis at Perth, Dec 3, 2004
Cricket Australia Chairman's XI v Pakistanis at Perth (Lilac Hill), Dec 7, 2004
Tour Match: Western Australia v Pakistanis at Perth, Dec 9-11, 2004
Australia A v Pakistanis at Adelaide, Jan 12, 2005
Australia A v Pakistanis at Adelaide, Jan 13, 2005
Prime Minister's XI v Pakistanis at Canberra, Jan 25, 2005