On a day where the wicket seemed to have fooled both captains, it was the Aussies, who, despite suffering a Pakistan style collapse, came out on top. The game highlighted a major flaw in the Australian gameplan while giving a sneak-peak to how simple the sport can be if the basics are followed.
Amir pulls out oldest play in the book to stop Aussie Openers
Kevin Pietersen, immediately following the toss, was adamant that the grass on the wicket was deceptive and in all the times he had played at Taunton, the wicket had provided no help for pacers. With both teams believing in the wicket, by dropping their main spinners, the onus was on the pacers to deliver. Within a few overs, it was clear that the green, allied with an open stadium, was nothing more than a ruse. The only man in the talented Pakistan bowling line-up to figure this out early was Mohammad Amir, who did what every bowling coach in the world preaches - maintain your line and length.
His first spell was nothing short of pure magic and had it not been for a misfield by Shoaib Malik and one ball a little too straight, he would have ended up conceding single digit runs in four overs. All Amir did was bowl just short of a good length outside off stump to David Warner while doing the same to Finch, who had to deal with the natural angle that Amir creates as well. Coming for his second spell, it took him just one ball to bait Finch into a false shot before repeating his tried and tested formula against Warner. The second spell of three overs cost his side just eight runs in three overs. While he did pick up four wickets towards the end, it was the first two spells that will go down among some of the best in his career.
Pakistan need Babar Azam to grow up quickly
As we mentioned in our predicted XI for Pakistan before this game, Babar Azam is a special player. He might not be a Virat Kohli in the making, as some Pakistani fans believe, but he could very well end up as one of the all-time greats. He looked comfortable against the Windies before edging one to the keeper and against England, a rush of blood to the head saw him going for an expansive shot and holing out to Chris Woakes at long on. Even though he already has nine centuries to his name, only two of them have come against the elite teams. The half-centuries, however, are a completely different proposition. Out of the 12 that he has to his name, 10 have come against the SENA countries.
Today, he looked like he was a man on a mission. He was driving Pat Cummins like a Michael Schumacher in his heyday. His defence looked rock solid and it looked like was destined to go big today. He quickly got to 30, 28 of which came through boundaries, off just 27 balls. Pakistan had already negotiated the new ball and with 56 runs on the board in the 11th over, they were on their way in the run chase. However, the youngster again brought his inexperience to the fore as he tried to pull a short ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile, that was outside the off stump, and gifted his wicket away. It is time for Azam to grow up and Pakistan need him to do it quickly else he could be just another of his Akmal cousins rather than a Javed Miandad.
Usman Khawaja - A safeguard that serves no purpose for Australia
Usman Khawaja has a had a pretty decent career so far and he still has a few more years to add some shine to the figures he possesses right now. An average of 42.19 might not jump out at you in an age where video game numbers seem to be the norm but nonetheless, they are pretty handy. So why are we concentrating on Khawaja on a day when Australia had an opening partnership of 146, Warner scored a century, and Cummins bowled out of his mind? Because it is a more important point than any other keeping in mind the Australians have always been a couple of steps ahead of everyone else in the past.
After Steve Smith was promoted up the order against India, Khawaja was dropped to the No. 4 spot - a position where he had played exactly ZERO matches. With Marsh added to the lineup against Pakistan, and Maxwell promoted to the No. 4 spot due to the need of quick runs, he had to be content with a No. 6 spot, again with no experience of playing at the position. The only logical reason for his selection seems to be a safeguard during a top order collapse. But that is exactly what Smith and Marsh are there for. Moreover, what that results in is Australia having to hand Finch and Maxwell the ball to fill in the role of a fifth bowler. If they do make the hard call and relegate him to the bench, the Aussies could have five genuine options with the ball with Maxwell acting as a backup.
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