UAE not home anymore

Since the 2009 attack on Sri Lankan players’ bus, the UAE has been home to Pakistan cricket and they’ve had tons of success playing on spin-friendly pitches, dishing out defeats to big teams, winning series on series and what not; however, everything comes to an end.

The draw against Australia in the first Test and a 2-0 whitewash at the hands of a visiting Sri Lanka are enough proof that Pakistan’s domination in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi is slowly waning.

The two teams shake hands after an epic draw © Getty Images (Photo by Ryan Pierse)

Test cricket is under a lot of scrutiny in the cricketing circles since home advantage has killed the thrill of the game as the hosts prepare pitches which suit them and then they roll over visiting oppositions.

For this purpose, the age-old tradition of toss has also been put under a microscope to allow a fair contest between the hosts and the visitors, but there is still no sign of that debate ending soon.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 11: Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrate after Australia held on to draw the test match during day five of the First Test match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Dubai International Stadium on October 11, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

However, Pakistan’s recent outings in the UAE haven’t played to their advantage.

The formula of batting first, scoring heavy and then claiming 20 opposition wickets did work when Misbahul Haq was in charge of the team in Tests, but under Sarfraz’s captaincy, it has become ineffective.

A plethora of reasons can be presented to defend Sarfraz, with him still coping with the five-day format’s demands being at the top, but one thing has become quite evident, Pakistan need a new plan as they’ve become predictable now.

Credit surely goes to how Australia denied Pakistan a series-starting victory, but they did look perplexed in the first four days. However, their plan to defend did in the end prove better than Pakistan’s plan of aggression, but a session or two too late.

Abu Dhabi offers Pakistan a chance at redemption, but will Sarfraz be able to jump on the opportunity will be seen when the Test culminates on October 20?

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2018.

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