Pakistan bowlers were taken to the cleaners on the third day of the Test match at Gabba by battle-hardened Australia. Waqar Younis discussed on the various facets of Pakistan's abysmal bowling performance.
The burgeoning debate on the decision to leave out Mohammad Abbas from this Test, who could have minimized the damage and bowled tight spells, remains unsettled as a lot of despaired fans are scratching their heads because of the terrible cricket that allowed Australia to put this game to bed with a stellar all-round show.
"Mohammad Abbas has been a match-winner for us for the last 18 months. He has been bowling really well but unfortunately, he is not in his best rhythm and recently, back in New Zealand tour, he had an injury so he hasn't been bowling as good which he did in the past in Australia and in England, but we are not losing hope in him. He is our main man and we are going to have a close look and hopefully, once we get to Adelaide, we will think about it [his selection]," Waqar said.
Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi are both very new to Test cricket. Pakistan's bowling coach sees this tour as a learning curve for the teenager quicks which brings attention to a pressing concern: why would you use a high-profile tour - which also marks the start of the World Test Championship campaign for Pakistan - as an opportunity to induct unseasoned pacers?
"You can always learn from your opposition. Naseem is only 16 and even Shaheen Shah is a teenager. They are going to learn a lot from this tour and I am very hopeful that these guys plus Musa Khan and [Mohammad] Hasnain are all future of Pakistan cricket and these teenagers are really good but probably they all need time and we hope they will learn in next year or so and they will be a force," Waqar explained.
The insipid performance has flummoxed Waqar, who attributed lacklustre bowling as a consequence of not targetting the right lengths and the inability to use new ball effectively.
"It's tough to say what's exactly is going out in the middle but we sit down every evening and we talk about it and we try to teach them what lengths need to be bowled and I think we missed it. It's very obvious and everyone has seen that our lengths were not right especially with the new ball. First new ball, I thought we bowled poorly. If we would have put the ball in the right areas things might have been a little bit different but we got carried away a little bit; young attack so it happens in Australia.
Naseem was used sparingly as a cautionary measure to avoid injury. He consistently clocked above 140kph and the excitement of making debut against a formidable side would have fired up the young sensation to overexert himself.
"Look we have to be very careful with Naseem Shah. He is very young and we have to manage him well because he bowls very quick so we cannot put too much load on him so we have got to be watchful because he is the future of Pakistan so we got to really use him sensibly, smartly, and I thought that's what our captain did. He is a wicket-taker; It was just his first Test match," Waqar opined.
"At one stage, we had this issue (slow over-rate). We were behind in the game so we didn't want to lose any points because it's World Championship.
India won the Test series against Australia in their own backyard in the most clinical fashion by 2-1 and tied the fourth match in December 2018. Australia retained the Ashes in England earlier this year but Waqar alluded to the case of teams struggling in overseas tours as the reason behind Pakistan's underwhelming performance - the argument holds some weight but a massive gulf between top-ranked sides is concerning.
"When teams travel abroad, it's different conditions. Even Australia struggled against the turning ball in India. It's very much same for Pakistan when we come in Australian soil, it takes a long time for any bowling attack to get it right and that's why most of the teams struggle here," Waqar said.
Waqar was of the opinion that two tour games and a few T20I matches weren't enough for acclimatizing to the conditions and that the Test series should have been longer.
"There should be more Test matches, two Test matches are very difficult. Once you lose one Test match it is hard to come back so I think there should be at least three or four matches and of course you need more time to acclimatize.
The former head coach of Pakistan also blamed the untimely retirements of Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir as the reason for a selection conundrum as he said they had no option but turn to the young guns.
"If you look back, Mohammad Amir [and] Wahab Riaz decided not to play Test cricket. They wanted to stick to white-ball cricket so we have to bring some other people to replace them. I feel that the younger you [play] you learn and once you go back, play few more Test matches, play more cricket at the top level, they [young bowlers] will settle better and they will hopefully produce the goods.
"It is a tough tour but as I said we had to bring youngsters and I feel they are the best in the country," Waqar remarked.