Even at full strength, Australian batting in recent years has shown palpable signs of weakness when the ball either swings or spins.
Pakistan attacked a severely weakened Australian line-up utilising both forms of kryptonite, unveiling swing with the old ball and finger spin to dismantle their first innings. Against this twin assault, Tim Paine’s tyros were powerless to halt Pakistan’s progress but at least in the second innings they displayed thoughtfulness and determination along with resolute defence to clinch a draw.
The leader of their resistance was the previously leaden-footed Usman Khawaja. The elegant left-hander displayed the benefit of a well-planned re-think of his approach to facing spin bowling and an elevation to the top of the order. The most productive batting of the Test came against the new ball where the opening partnerships prospered.
In fact, there was a period in Australia’s first innings where they could have answered with a rejoinder “what weakness against spin?” as they cruised to 142 without loss. However, at that point the Australian batting suffered another all-too-familiar collapse, losing 10 wickets for 60 runs.
This collapse was precipitated by the off-spin of debutant Bilal Asif, a taller version of the Muttiah Muralitharan form of finger-spin, involving a lot of wristwork.
Asif’s deceptive flight and bounce bamboozled the Australian left-handers and opened the