Australia might have scored a convincing series victory over Pakistan, but cracks appeared in the side’s leadership on the field during the final day’s play.
Vice captain Steve Smith was left shaking his head after a plea to review a catch behind the stumps was ignored by skipper Pat Cummins as Australia surged to victory over Pakistan.
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Smith’s elevation to the deputy role after the sandpaper scandal was always going to open the door to debate around how much of a say he might have in the way the team operates.
Pakistan started to panic when Imam was caught close to the wicket in Lyon’s second over after lunch after batting for more than 4 1/2 hours and facing 199 balls.
Cummins put Australia on the brink of victory when the pacer had middle-order batters Fawad Alam (11) and Mohammad Rizwan (0) leg before wicket off his sharp reverse swing.
Australia’s leadership issues were laid bare when Babar Azam survived a couple of close calls as the tourists didn’t go for referral against the Pakistan skipper before tea.
Smith took a spectacular catch behind the stumps, convinced he had dismissed Azam, with most of the Australia team also adamant the Pakistan captain was gone, calling for Cummins to use the team’s final DRS challenge after the umpire remained unmoved by the appeal.
The Australian captain decided to keep their final challenge in the bank in opposition to his deputy, leaving an animated Smith visibly frustrated.
“They have one review yet. Is it worth doing for Babar Azam, it probably is,” Rob Key said in commentary.
“Steve Smith looked like he thought they should have actually done it, a little spat for a second it looked. The toys might have just come out of the pram.”
Turns out Smith was right, when replays showed Azam had gloved the catch to him in the slips.
“I think it maybe just caught the glove. This was Steve Smith. He was desperate for them to review it,” Key added.
“I think Steve Smith would have been right. You can understand why Pat Cummins [did not review it]. It is not an easy job.”
Babar did complete his half century with an edged boundary before edging a low catch to Smith off Lyon and Sajid Khan (21) hit three boundaries against the second new ball before Pakistan folded an hour into the last session.
Just like in the first innings when Pakistan lost seven wickets cheaply after tea on the third day, Australia ran through the home team’s long tail by claiming the last five wickets for 22 runs.
Earlier, Australia had pinned down Pakistan to 136-2 at lunch, allowing the home team to add only 63 runs in an extended 2-1/2 hour first session.
Australia get the job done in style
Azhar Ali (17) was controversially judged caught close to the wicket by the TV umpire after the batter went for a sweep against Lyon and the ball popped out to Smith.
Onfield umpire Ahsan Raza ruled in the batter’s favor but Australia went for referral and, after several inconclusive replays, the TV umpire Asif Yaqoob overturned the decision.
Australia had made early inroads when opener Abdullah Shafique failed to add a run to his overnight 27 after Pakistan resumed on 73-0.
Cameron Green struck in his second over when he had Shafique caught behind as the batter tried to push the ball away from his body and got a healthy edge behind the wicket.
The first test ended in a tame draw at Rawalpindi where the pitch was rated as below average by the ICC. Babar’s brilliant 196 in more than 10 hours denied Australia a win at Karachi where Pakistan played out 171.4 overs in more than five sessions and forced an epic draw.
Pakistan and Australia start a three-match ODI series on Tuesday.
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