Aussie cricket’s new era is a horror show
THIS is what you asked for, Australia.
The new batting lineup assembled in the wake of suspensions to stars Steve Smith and David Warner has crumbled in horror fashion against Pakistan.
What was hailed as a new era in Australian cricket after a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa prompted public outrage became a brutal reminder of what life without your two best batsmen can look like.
Australia created history by losing 10/60 after Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja put on 142 for the first wicket, leaving the tourists battling to save the First Test against Pakistan.
The hosts were 3/45 in their second innings at stumps on day three, leading by 325 runs after Australia was bowled out for 202 in Dubai.
Pakistan's best bowler wasn't even required to take a wicket as two players with eight Test matches between them took all 10 scalps.
Finch (62) and Khawaja (85) made strong starts in pursuit of Pakistan's first innings score of 482 but were unable to go on with them and swing the contest in Australia's direction.
No. 3 batsman Shaun Marsh managed just seven to leave Australia teetering at 3/171 but it became a horror show as debutants Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne both made ducks.
Five wickets down at tea, Australia's hopes of salvation rested on the shoulders of new captain Tim Paine and vice-captain Mitch Marsh.
But Marsh (12) was trapped lbw by paceman Mohammad Abbas shortly after the interval and Paine (seven) soon followed, unsuccessfully reviewing his dismissal from offspinner Bilal with replays confirming a faint edge to short leg.
Mitchell Starc became the third nought of the innings and when Bilal Asif claimed Nathan Lyon for his sixth wicket of the innings it was all over.
Former Australian fast bowler Brendan Julian slammed the Australians for the way they played, arguing conditions hadn't changed too much since the early days.
"It's not as if it's keeping low, there has been a bit of reverse swing bowling, which is what the Australians got," he said.
"Peter Siddle got it to reverse, Mitch Starc got it to reverse, I don't think they got anything different than Pakistan got, they just played them badly."
Allan Border didn't understand why Australia found it so difficult. "It's not spitting and turning, it's turning a little bit," Border said.
"To me it's been a typical subcontinent pitch, maybe a bit slower than ideal right from the get-go, but it's a lot better than some of the pitches I've seen recently in India where they basically turn right from the first ball. This one gives you a chance as a batsman."
Bilal, 33, thrived in his maiden Test with figures of 6-36 and Abbas snared 4-29.
Ace legspinner Yasir Shah went wicketless but would have had Mitch Marsh dismissed for three if he had gotten his hands to a caught-and-bowled opportunity which bounced off his chest.
Australia's tail failed to wag but the blame will rightly fall on a middle order that failed to contribute a score of note.
"Myself and Ussie today not really going on and getting huge scores, that probably leaves us hanging a bit," Finch said.
"That's both of our responsibility to really kick on and not open up both ends of the game and allow them to be bowling at new batters all the time. "That was probably the biggest mistake we made today."
Finch and Khawaja both appeared on track for centuries after putting on Australia's second-highest opening partnership in Asia.
However, some shrewd tactics from Sarfraz brought the 142-run stand to an end as Finch drove an Abbas delivery straight down the throat of a well-positioned Asad Shafiq at short mid-on.
Khawaja's growing confidence in conditions he had typically struggled in was on display when he reverse-swept Yasir for four off consecutive deliveries. But the promoted opener also fell poorly to Bilal with a top-edge caught at short leg.
Head lasted just nine balls and Labuschagne two as Australia's hopes of getting close to Pakistan's imposing first-innings total of 482 slipped away.
Left-arm spinner Jon Holland trapped Azhar Ali (four) lbw with the final ball of Tuesday's play after earlier dismissing first-innings centurion Mohammad Hafeez (17) courtesy of a sharp catch by Marnus Labuschagne at silly point.
The breakthroughs will provide some slight hope but Tim Paine's men will rue a post-lunch collapse which undid a highly-promising start.
Australia have only won on three occasions in Test cricket after conceding at least 482 runs in the first innings.
Pakistan will resume on day four with Imam-ul-Haq 23 not out and Asad Shafiq yet to score.
- with AAP