Pakistan stamped their dominance over Australia in Abu Dhabi in the second and final Test to secure a 1-0 series win over the Baggy Greens.
The day began with unexpected rains coming down over the ground in Abu Dhabi but the cricket Gods soon intervened to allow the Test match to continue under relatively overcast conditions. Australia resumed with opener Aaron Finch and No 3 batsman Travis Head at the crease as they set out to bat for two straight days to rescue a historic draw in Pakistan’s adopted home ground.
Proceedings didn’t go according to plan for either team as injury concerns headlined the news. Usman Khawaja was ruled out of batting after a freak knee injury sustained during the pre-game warmup on Thursday, while Pakistan’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed was off the park as a precaution after having sustained a blow to the head while batting the previous day.
Although Australia inevitably suffered at the loss of Khawaja, Pakistan went along on their merry way under the stewardship of stand-in captain Asad Shafiq as they dismissed a further six Aussie batsmen in the first session to leave the travelling team languishing on 155-7 after 45 overs.
Mohammad Abbas was at his blistering best as he secured five more wickets (at the expense of just 62 runs in 17 overs) in the innings to add to his 5-33 (12.4 overs). The pace bowler ripped through the Australian batting order as he got rid of overnight batsmen Head (36 off 53 balls, five fours) and Finch (31 off 61 balls, two fours) to expose the run-shy Aussie middle order.
He soon dismissed the struggling Mitchell Marsh for five runs off five balls before also accounting for Australian captain Tim Paine for a duck – reducing the Baggy Greens to a disastrous 78-5 off 23 overs – in their pursuit of a mammoth 538-run target.
The introduction of the ever-reliable Yasir Shah yielded two further wickets before the interval as he broke the slightly troubling and defiant 67-run partnership between Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Starc with accurate wrist-spin bowling, trapping Starc lbw plumb in front. He also got rid of tail-ender Peter Siddle, who opted not to lose a review for the straightforward on-field lbw decision, reducing Australia to a calamitous 151-7 as lunch approached.
Shah finished with figures of 3-45 in 21.4 overs after concluding proceedings with the dismissal of No 10 Jon Holland – the last wicket to fall with Khawaja absent.
After lunch, Abbas quickly got rid of top-scoring Labuschagne (43 off 78 balls, five fours) to become the first Pakistani pace bowler in the past decade to upstage the spinners by picking up 10 wickets in a match since Mohammad Asif took 11 wickets in 2006 against Sri Lanka in Kandy.
Abbas’ 10-wicket haul earned him the Player of the Match accolade at the end of the encounter, as well as the well-deserved Player of the Series award to top off a stellar performance in both Test matches.
Asad Shafiq, the stand-in skipper for the day, was impressed by his bowling attack during the morning’s play and duly applauded his charges off the park. They returned after the lunch interval to pick up the remaining two wickets and seal the 1-0 series victory on home soil after a disappointing draw in the first Test match.
The Australian tour of the UAE continues with the limited-overs series, starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with the first encounter in a three-match T20 series.
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