The new-look Aussie Test side has written itself into the history books, for all the wrong reasons.
The fresh faces in the side were plagued by the same old problems in Dubai as another calamitous batting collapse proved costly in the first Test against Pakistan.
Seven years on from their last series victory in Asia, the issues that plagued Australia in Dhaka, Bangalore and Galle were carried to the Emirates as Tim Paine’s men lost 10 wickets for just 60 runs and were bowled out for 202.
After openers Aaron Finch (62) and Usman Khawaja (85) but on 142 for the first wicket, the shocking collapse marked the third-worst in the history of Test cricket after a century opening partnership.
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) October 9, 2018
Pakistan will resume on day four at 3-45, leading Australia by 325 runs after offspinner Bilal Asif wreaked havoc on the tourists with six wickets on debut.
Missing suspended duo Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia’s top six in Dubai included three debutants in Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne.
Finch built a strong opening partnership with Khawaja, but Head and Labuschagne both made ducks with Shaun and Mitch Marsh – batting at No.3 and No.4 respectively – also dismissed cheaply.
The inclusion of three debutant batsmen was always going to be a gamble in difficult conditions but similar capitulations on subcontinental turning tracks in recent years suggest the performance in Dubai was far from isolated.
Finch conceded Australia’s batsmen had struggled to counter Bilal’s spin but denied panic had set in as the wickets began to fall.
“I think all the guys who walked in still had really clear plans with what they wanted to do and what they’ve been practising,” Finch said.
“It’s just a different environment when you walk out and there’s guys all around the bat, which is tough to replicate in the nets.
“A guy who is a very tall offspinner (Bilal) getting a lot of bounce which is hard to replicate.
“Guys still had really god plans, and your first 20 or 30 balls in these conditions are obviously your most vulnerable.
“It’s just about being patient, making sure that we’re still making good decisions and (taking the) opportunity to go on.”
Finch rued that neither he nor Khawaja were able to reach triple figures, saying it had been their responsibility not to allow Pakistan’s bowlers fresh targets at both ends.
The pair’s 142-run stand was Australia’s second-highest opening partnership in Asia.
“Myself and Ussie today not really going on and getting huge scores, that probably leaves us hanging a bit,” Finch said.
“That was probably the biggest mistake we made today.”
Head lasted just nine balls in his maiden Test innings and Labuschagne two as Australia’s hopes of getting close to Pakistan’s imposing first-innings total of 482 slipped away.
Australia have only won on three occasions in Test cricket after conceding at least 482 runs in the first innings.