Pakistan Crush Australia, Selection Questions Raised for India Series

Shaun Marsh Struggling for Form

Australia collapsed without a whimper to leave Pakistan victorious in the second and the final Test of the series at Abu Dhabi. This was after Australia had managed to play out a fighting draw in the opener in Dubai.

The result was never in doubt when Australia, set to score 538 in the final innings, had slumped to 10/1 overnight with Usman Khawaja expected to not bat because of injury. And they collapsed dramatically on the fourth day, losing their last eight wickets for 93 runs to leave Pakistan victorious by 373 runs.

Mohammad Abbas was the toast of the nation as he followed up his seven-wicket haul in the first Test with a 10-fer in this game, picking up five and five in both innings.

Earlier, Pakistan had slumped to 57/5 on day one of the Test before 90s from Fakhar Zaman and Sarfaraz Ahmed helped them post a competitive 282 in their first innings. None of the Aussie batsmen crossed 40 in reply and they were bowled out for 145, and with a lead of 137, Pakistan began their second innings grind.

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Despite the comedy involved in the run-out of Azhar Ali, Pakistan compiled a score of 400 in the second innings on the shoulders of a Babar Azam 99 and fifties off the bat of Zaman, Azhar and Sarfaraz. Australia were bowled out for 164 the second time around.

And with an important home Test series coming up against India, Australia have a few questions that need to be asked around the places in the team. They will hope the injury issues that Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have suffered in recent times are overcome so before the start of that series against India.

But more vitally, there are bigger question-marks over the batting line-up.

While Aaron Finch and Travis Head might have proved they belonged in the Test match format, and Marnus Labuchagne added an all-round option in the middle, there are issues associated with the trio of Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh.

Khawaja showed signs he belonged to the Test match cricket in Asian conditions too but suffered a meniscal tear and might miss the start of that series against India. The Marsh brothers, on the other hand, squandered an opportunity to prove a point and finished the series with a combined score of 44 runs from eight innings at an average of 5.5.

What do the selectors do? If there was any doubt that the Marsh brothers do not belong to the Test match level, this series might have removed them all but in the absence of Steven Smith and David Warner, does it make sense to bring in two new guys and have a line-up that looks totally different from the series against South Africa?

The advantage that Australia have is it’s a home series which means anybody coming in will have a good chance to get used to the conditions. But big decisions ahead for the Australian selectors.

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