Michael Clarke made his return to the Australian Test squad after recovering from a hamstring injury © Getty Images
Michael Clarke made his return to the Australian Test squad after recovering from a hamstring injury © Getty Images

If Australia fails to win the second and final Test match at Abu Dhabi, it will be after 20 years that they will have lost a Test series to Pakistan. In all likelihood, the pitch will assist the spinners more than what it did at Dubai, and Australia need their captain Michael Clarke, their best bet against spin, to save them from embarrassment. Devarchit Varma delves further on the issue.

Little did the cricket fraternity expect Pakistan to be as imposing as they were in the first Test, after all the off-field action that had transpired? Saeed Ajmal was missing from the bowling attack and the limited-overs leg of this bilateral series proved that Pakistan is a considerable weaker outfit when the right-arm star spinner is taken out of the attack. Before the first Test, Australia looked like a side that had accustomed themselves well and were playing up to their potential. But in the first Test, the Aussies struggled on all five days and in all departments. Pakistan’s comeback was sooner than expected, covering the ground that they had lost before. Now, they look very close to creating history.

Pakistan always had the upper hand against Australia at the start of the series, given the fact that they know their way through these lanes, and can be more dangerous than what they are. The cricket fraternity terms this dangerousness of Pakistan as ‘unpredictability’. The demolition of England in 2012, followed by South Africa having to toil it out in 2013, proved that Pakistan have settled well in their newly-discovered home, and can excel in these conditions. Keeping in mind the way the non-Asian sides have struggled in the subcontinent (barring England in 2012 in India), Australia too weren’t expected to produce strong performance, as the ghosts of the 2013 tour of India and their batsmen’s frailties against spin bowling were strong factors against them.

Australia do not have many in their batting department who can excel all over the world. Alex Doolan is only few Tests old, and even though Phil Hughes is making heaps of runs back home, his atrocious footwork in India in 2013 will not encourage Australia to play him. David Warner slammed a fine century and Chris Rogers got a few runs in the opening Test, but Australia need a lot more than that.

What Australia need at this moment is batsmen who can not only play the spin, but spend hours on the field, drilling down the opposition. One can never scrap the fact that both Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah are very new to international cricket, and the tourists can use mental tactics and bit of batting skills to wear them down. Who better than Michael Clarke can do this for Australia?

Clarke has been away from international cricket for a long time and indeed wasn’t up to the mark in the opening Test, but the second match is a do-or-die situation. Clarke is one of the best players of spin bowling in international cricket. He has the ability to spend long hours at crease and grind the opposition down. If Clarke gets going, the others, such as the experienced Brad Haddin and the talented Steven Smith – who bat lower than the skipper – can lift themselves up. Knowing Clarke, he would be more than eager to get among the run-scorers and challenge Pakistan’s authority, as he wouldn’t like the acrimony of being the skipper who led Australia to a series loss against Pakistan after the one in 1994-95.

Complete coverage of Pakistan and Australia in UAE

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)