Tour review

Australia vs Pakistan, 2019-20

Adam Collins

Twenty20 internationals (3): Australia 2, Pakistan 0

Test matches (2): Australia 2 (120pts), Pakistan 0 (0pts)

A nostalgic lament accompanied Azhar Ali's hapless team. With Waqar Younis on the coaching staff, and Wasim Akram in the commentary box, Pakistan's winless tour was routinely compared with better times in Australia. Just as in every visit since 1999-2000, they were swept in the Tests, having fared little better in the T20s.

Pakistan's losing streak Down Under now stretched to 14 Tests. The only difference from the previous four series - all lost 3-0 - was that this contained only two matches. Even so, it was probably the least competitive of the lot.

The disparity was best highlighted by the fact that Australia batted only once in each Test. David Warner piled up 489 runs, including 335 not out at Adelaide, the second-highest score by an Australian; it helped atone for his horror Ashes. That he didn't clear the ropes until he had passed 300 was a reminder of his evolution as a Test opener in home conditions. Only England's Wally Hammond, with 563 in New Zealand in 1932-33, had scored more in a series from just two innings.

Just as telling were the contributions of Joe Burns, Warner's recalled opening partner, and Marnus Labuschagne, who rattled off consecutive centuries - his first for Australia - while barely giving a chance. The middle order had a quiet time: in both matches, Steve Smith entered with the score past 350; at Adelaide, Travis Head became only the third Australian to take part in a Test win without batting, bowling or taking a catch, after Bill Johnston (twice) and Craig McDermott.

The two men most in need of wickets both tucked in. Overlooked for all but one Ashes Test, Mitchell Starc reclaimed the new ball, and made it count. He started in top gear in the forgettable T20 hors d'oeuvre - which might also have been a clean sweep but for rain in Sydney - and romped through the Tests, taking 14 wickets, six in the first innings at Adelaide. Nathan Lyon had not previously shone against Pakistan, but rounded off the series with a welcome five-for. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood shared 18. Sean Abbott made the most of his return to the T20 team, claiming the match award in Perth, while fellow seamer Kane Richardson also pressed his claims.

Only Babar Azam, who made two half-centuries, and Iftikhar Ahmed were able to lay a glove on the Australians, who made it seven straight 20-over wins a year before their home World Cup. They were also reminded that Smith was still a vital member of the short-form team, after a dazzling unbeaten 51- ball 80 in Canberra.

Babar took his good form into the Tests, making a superb rearguard century at Brisbane, before falling three short of another at Adelaide. Mohammad Rizwan prospered too, silencing those critical of Sarfraz Ahmed's sacking. Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood had their moments, but collectively Pakistan were overawed.

Yasir Shah's leg-spin was savaged. He had averaged 84 with the ball on his previous visit, and now fared even worse: four wickets at 100.50, while leaking around five an over. However, a defiant century from No. 8 in Adelaide showed his spirit.

Pakistan's pace attack had started by blowing away Australia A in a warmup, but after that only Shaheen Shah Afridi delivered the goods. As he was still only 19, it was asking a lot for him to lead an attack shorn of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz - both retired from Tests, to the chagrin of selector/coach Misbah-ul-Haq - but he did his best. Fellow teenagers Naseem Shah and MusaKhan fought well, but were not ready for Test cricket, while Imran Khan and Mohammad Abbas were reduced versions of their former selves. Abbas was left out at Brisbane, and failed to strike at Adelaide. It summed up Pakistan's miserable tour.

© John Wisden & Co