Australian media came down hard on Aussie skipper Pat Cummins and questioned his strategy after Pakistan pulled off an extraordinary draw at the Karachi Test.
Cummins defended his decision not to enforce the follow-on against Pakistan in the drawn second Test. Australia racked up 556-9 before declaring their first innings and then skittled out Pakistan for 148 for a mammoth lead of 408 at Karachi’s National Stadium.
Instead of subjecting Pakistan to follow on, Cummins decided to bat on and Australia declared their second innings at 97-2 — setting Pakistan a record victory target of 506.
Babar Azam’s epic 196 fuelled Pakistan’s spirited fightback and Australia were eventually stranded three wickets away from a 1-0 lead in the three-test series.
“Coming over here in these conditions, at the start of the series if you had said it’s going to be nil-all after two games, we would probably take that,” Cummins told reporters.
Fox News reported that in light of Cummins’ decision, there’s an “argument” that Australia could have been in some danger of a Kolkata 2001 repeat if they did enforce the follow-on.
“It was something Cummins was likely acutely aware of and steered clear, knowing 170 overs was enough time to create 10 chances,” Fox News said.
“In the end, Australia created far more than just 10 and still didn’t win the Test — so it’s worth asking ourselves who is really to blame here?”
Australia also missed several chances to dismiss Pakistani batters in the second innings, with the highlight being Steve Smith’s drop of Abdullah Shafique on day four.
“This was a regulation slips catch that strangely hit Smith in the stomach and went straight to ground,” the publication said.
At that time the inexperienced batter was just in the twenties, but later on, he scored 96 runs and managed to forge a much-needed 200-run partnership with skipper Babar Azam.
On day five, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne also dropped catches of Babar and gave him two extra lives.
“In the third-last over, Mohammad Rizwan was taking some risks to get to his century before stumps and picked out Usman Khawaja at extra cover. Had Khawaja taken the catch, Pakistan would have had to survive two overs with its No.9 and No.10 at the crease,” it said.
However, Khawaja dropped the “simple chance” to seal the draw.
After all, 170 overs is an awfully long time to spend in the field.
“Look, we had enough overs to bowl them out and just couldn’t do it,” former Australia captain Michael Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast on Thursday morning.
“We did miss a couple of opportunities on days four and five so they’d have to be disappointed with that.”
The publication noted becomes more “important than ever when trying to chase a result on a dull wicket and, once again, Australia came up short”.