Pakistan Cricket Team director believes Shan Masood captained well overall and blamed his side’s fielding for their 0-3 series defeat
Although Shan Masood has received a lot of recognition for his communication abilities throughout the course of his career, it seems that nobody understood him Thursday afternoon in Sydney.
Aamer Jamal, the joint-leading wicket-taker in the series, was not used by Pakistan during the morning after Australia was set 130 to win the last Test. Masood didn’t toss him the ball in the 20th over until after midday, when Australia needed 33 to win with nine wickets remaining and all hope eliminated from the match.
Mohammad Hafeez, the team director, seemed to take a slight stand on the decision, stating that he thought Jamal ought to have bowled sooner. He did, however, reiterate that Pakistan supported Masood’s decision-making on the field and saw the value of bowling off-spin on a track that was starting to take a lot of turn. Opening bowler Sajid Khan claimed a wicket in his opening over and another shortly before Australia completed an eight-wicket victory.
Regarding the bowling strategy, Hafeez stated, “It’s up to the captain,” following the game. “The captain is using a tactic, but all of the bowlers were available.” This track can provide a lot from the far end, so we wanted to bowl more from the off-spinner; the rest is up to [Masood]. Although I believe Jamal should have bowled sooner from a tactical standpoint, you have to support the captain’s decision since they are the finest judges on the field.
Actually, the choice to ignore Jamal will be remembered as an odd detail in a match where Pakistan’s lead had been blown in various areas and stages of the contest, most notably in a crazy last hour on the third day when they collapsed from 58 for 2 to 67 for 7. Particularly in the previous two Tests, Pakistan often found themselves on the receiving end of such kinds of fast-paced periods with enormous swings in momentum.
In Melbourne, Pakistan was 124 for one after Australia’s 318 in the first innings, but they lost the next five wickets for 46 runs. The visitors took Australia to 16 for 4 in the second innings, but Mitchell Marsh missed a crucial catch early, allowing him to drive the ball out of sight. The next day, Pakistan lost five wickets for eighteen runs, leaving them 98 runs short of the target with half the team still in the game. It was a heartbreaking defeat.
Pakistan got the upper hand in this Test match after restricting Australia’s last five players to just 10 runs, giving them a narrow first-innings advantage. However, a bowling attack led by Josh Hazlewood managed to recover those losses.
“Hard lessons were learned,” Hafeez declared. We had our moments as a team, but we were unable to seize them. Maybe we weren’t [deserving] 3-0; as a team, I believe we accomplished a lot this series, but the loss came from our inability to prevail in the pivotal moments of the match. Even though we lost the series, I believed we could compete right away after observing the players’ skill. There have been hints of it. Particularly in Melbourne when they were 16 for 4, there were opportunities in both games that we ought to have seized because they could have a significant impact. We could have only needed to pursue 140–150, but that didn’t work out.
We failed to make some catches even here. Saim Ayub dropped Mitchell Marsh. We lost the game’s pivotal moments rather than catches. Our fielding is the weakest aspect of our team. We have to put in a lot of effort on this. Although the coaches put a lot of effort into it, they were unable to react appropriately when the players entered. I think this is the one area where we need to improve.”
The cozy friendliness that emerged as a recurrent motif in this series was difficult to overlook. The players from both teams have discussed the bonds that were formed when Australia visited Pakistan in early 2022 to play series in all three formats, and for the past month, those bonds have held strong. On Christmas Day, Pakistani players gave gift baskets and candies to the children of Australian players, and the players and families interacted with a relaxed familiarity. In Sydney, Pakistan honored David Warner with a guard of honor during both innings, cheered him off the field, and gave him a playing top that was signed by the entire squad and featured the image of Babar Azam.
“Playing the cricket with the right spirit of the game [was a positive],” Hafeez stated. “Our captain did a great job leading the side. He made the right decisions at crucial moments. It’s not just about your cricket; it’s also about your ambassadorial behavior. I believe he completed most tasks correctly.”
But the basic, unchanging realities still stand. Pakistan may have performed better than in any of the six series in which they have now been handily defeated by Australia, but their unbreakable streak of 17 series still stands. Furthermore, despite the fact that Australia was pushed closer than most people—even in Pakistan—might have anticipated given the visitors’ diminished bowling attack, the desire in Australia to find solace in what-ifs and so-nearlys has started to wane.