The long wait is over for Pakistan's fans as after fifteen long years and sixteen test matches, Pakistan has finally beaten Australia. To be fair, they have played all their matches against Australia in the last twelve years either in Australia, or at neutral grounds, but never at home, though it still doesn't explain the number of times Pakistan's batting has collapsed like a pack of cards.
Anyway, coming back to the just concluded match at Leeds, it is crystal clear that major share of the credit for the victory has to be taken by the quicker bowlers, as both Ameer and Asif were impressive not just at Leeds, but at Lord's too. I enjoy watching the young Ameer bowl, as at a tender age, he has the ability to swing it both ways with ease and can bowl at good pace too. He bowled couple of magic deliveries in the first innings, though they were wasted on tailenders lol. Asif has always looked like a quality bowler and for Pakistan's sake, I hope that he stays away from again getting embroiled in drugs controversy. On the other hand, Umar Gul has always been better with the white ball as in test cricket, he has never found the late swing that he can get with the white ball, but even he supported both Ameer and Asif in the series. Gul should surely work on his no ball problem too.
I can't be lavish in praise about their batsmen though, as yet again their batsmen let the team down. Yes, it isn't easy to play in alien conditions, but some of the shots Pakistan's batsmen played in this series were just comical to watch and is fit for street cricket. In fact, they almost lost the match today as Pakistan's batsmen did hara-kiri while chasing a relatively low target of 180. Pakistan's batsmen either seem to slog, or they go into panic mode and would start pushing and poking at each delivery. Today, all their batsmen played like they are batting for the first time in their life, but thankfully in the end, Pakistan were able to cross the finishing line and win the match. The one positive sign for Pakistan is their new captain Butt has been in good form in recent times, though someone has to tell him that it isn't just about doing well against Australia lol. He has to work on his captaincy as he set defensive fields and did panic when Smith went hammer and tongs at the bowlers, but to be fair to Butt, it was only his first test match as a captain. I also liked Pakistan's fielding as they fielded well in this series and dare I say, Pakistan caught better than Australia.
As far as the Australian team is concerned, Ponting would no doubt be worried about front-line bowlers not stepping up-to the plate. Johnson was yet again all over the place and he rarely ever bowls with upright seam, but as he gets awkward bounce, he would always prove to be useful in Australia. Bollinger bowled better today, but I expected a lot more from him. Hilfy is good, though it would be better, if he improves his inswinger. Australia's trump card in this series was no doubt Watson. I have always rated him as a bowler, but to be known as a good all-rounder, he has to remain injury free which is a big if with him.
Putner won't be entirely happy with the batting either, as he himself hasn't been in great touch of late and what is North doing in the side? Yes, he took six wickets with his friendly off spin at Lord’s, but he is in the side for his batting. I just don't think his technique is good enough to survive in test cricket and England would no doubt like him to be in the Ashes side! I do like the youngster Smith though, as he is a very powerful batsman, who seems to have the temperament to succeed in test cricket.
Finally, I would like to say that it was an entertaining match with both teams having their flaws and were evenly matched which always makes for keenly contested matches. Congratulations to Pakistan for drawing the series, though their batting continues to be brittle. Oh for another woodchopper like Ijaz Ahmed!