Cummins on lifeless Rawalpindi pitch



Australia captain says coming away with a draw in sub-continent conditions “not a bad result”

Australia’s captain Pat Cummins believes Rawalpindi’s lifeless pitch was specifically designed to nullify the visitors’ pace attack and that a draw was a good result despite his team only managing to take four wickets throughout the Test.
Just 14 wickets fell in five days, with Pakistan piling up 476 for 4 declared and 252 for 0 across two innings before the game was called off with an hour to go on day five. Australia created some unwanted records with the bowlers claiming just three scalps across 239 overs, with Marnus’ Labuschagne’s direct hit run-out accounting for the fourth. Australia’s combined bowling average of 238.33 and strike-rate of 478 were the second-worst in 145 years of Test cricket, sitting only behind Pakistan’s efforts in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1958 when Sir Garfield Sobers made 365 not out.

But Cummins was “not at all” concerned about his side’s lack of penetration across almost three full days of bowling on a surface he rated as one of the flattest he has ever played on.

“Turning up to a pitch that’s probably not a traditional pitch you would get here in Rawalpindi, and it’s probably clear they’ve made an effort to try and nullify the pace bowling,” Cummins said post-match.

“I think that’s a positive. And, sub-continent conditions, coming away with a draw it’s not a bad result.”

Cummins was pleased with the efforts of his bowlers across the Test match and explained that once a result became impossible early on day five, he made a concerted effort to keep his key bowlers fresh for the next Test in Karachi by not over-bowling them.

“I think we all tried different things,” Cummins said. “I think all the quick bowlers, although we’ve spent the best part of three days out in the field, I think we’ve all bowled around about 25, maximum 30 overs each, which in comparison to a lot of Australian Test matches is actually a pretty light workload.

“Didn’t get a huge look at reverse swing this Test, but that might come into it later on. But I was really happy with how everyone went and everyone’s come through unscathed.”

Imam-ul-Haq became just the 10th Pakistani batter to score twin centuries in a Test match. Incidentally the previous three players to do so, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq had all achieved the feat against Australia in the UAE 2014. Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc were also part of Australia’s attack in that series.
Imam and Abdullah Shafique also set a new record for the most runs scored by an opener pair in partnership against Australia.

Cummins admitted the Australians need to review their plans for them ahead of Karachi despite the batting-friendly conditions in Rawalpindi.

“I thought the Pakistani batters batted really well the whole game,” Cummins said. “Got themselves in and then once they got themselves in they were able to just tick over the score.

“We’ll spend the next couple days reviewing it having a look at maybe different plans ahead of Karachi, expecting probably different conditions as well.

Cummins was pleased with the batting performance of his own side with the entire top four passing fifty for the first time since 2015 and Usman Khawaja and David Warner sharing a 156-run opening stand. Given the nature of the surface, there is a case to be made that Australia’s batters could have perhaps prospered even more than they did with none of the top four kicking onto big hundreds, and all four fell to mistakes mainly of their own doing.

But given it was their first hit of the series and just the second instance of an Australian team making more than 450 in a Test in Asia since 2011, the skipper was satisfied with the performance.

Aside from the pitch turning the game into a turgid high-scoring affair, Cummins was full of praise for the Rawalpindi people who had made Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in 24 years a touch more bearable.

“They were fantastic the crowd,” he said.

“Really passionate crowd for obviously Pakistan but really respectful and great for our players as well. I loved that. Every time we walked onto the field they’re chanting and trying to get waves from our players, which is awesome.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo


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