Pakistan may have lost the heart for the Sydney Test
MELBOURNE’S Boxing Day Test has a profound effect on Aussie cricketers’ form. Some batsmen thrive on the festive atmosphere and give opposing bowlers a serve on the MCG wicket.
Other batsmen – and bowlers – crumble under pressure. Some Aussies had glorious batting innings and magic spells with the ball.
It was a memorable Test, particularly as the Melbourne crowd celebrated their Test hero – Shane Watson, who redeemed himself at the crease in Australia’s 170-run win.
After fluffing his chance of a maiden Test century in the first innings, Watson was determined to cure the nervous nineties and live out his seemingly elusive dream to reach 100.
Scoring 120 not out in the second innings was a big buzz for Watson, who has now joined the 100 club. It was a goal that eluded him for some time.
Watson will serve Australia well in future series – no doubt. He’s tenacious, a skilled stroke player and a talented all-rounder.
Watson has broken the century barrier, a feat which will build his confidence.
Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Hauritz, who were teammates in Brisbane before building international careers, surprised Pakistani batsmen as both vied for hat-tricks.
Hauritz return his best Test figures – 5 for 101 – and spun the Pakistanis out of the game.
A pattern had emerged for Boxing Day Tests – good spin bowling and several fine knocks will put the better team in the box seat for an outright win.
The Test victory was Ricky Ponting’s 42nd win out of 65 matches as skipper, making him the most successful captain in Test history.
The truth is that Ponting has good material to work with, after cricket’s leaders built quality development programs.
I’m tipping that the January 3 Sydney Test will be a yawn fest, as Pakistan are down on experience and talent.
While Pakistan would be lucky to knock off the Aussies in this series, the team takes heart in the arrival of its promising teenagers.
Batsman Umar Akmal, 19, and left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Aamer, 17, are Pakistan’s future stars.
They show a fighting spirit and level of pride that Pakistan needs to revive itself as the powerhouse it once was.
The Pakistani teenagers need more time to develop against the seasoned Aussies.
But this summer, the Aussies will face little resistance as they strive for a level of consistency that abandoned them during the Ashes series.
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