Misbah-ul-Haq said that Pakistan gave the momentum back to Australia and, once that happened, they were in no position to attack © Getty Images
On the final day at the MCG, on a still-pristine pitch on which Australia had added 159 runs in the morning in under 30 overs, Pakistan lost their last eight wickets for 100 runs. That sealed their 11th successive Test defeat in Australia and, with it, a chance to go to Sydney with the series still alive.
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, had his own future on his mind, but he struggled to explain how his side ended up losing a Test which they had begun by declaring on 443 by an innings and 18 runs.
Pakistan had to bat out a minimum of 67 overs when they began their second innings in a Test in which three days were almost half lost to rain.
“There is no explanation,” he said. “Once you are under pressure, from a position when you score  in the first innings and are dominating the game, then on the last day you are saving the Test, that pressure sometimes does things like that. And it was sheer pressure. Full credit to Australia, the way they batted and put us under pressure.”
Though he acknowledged his side’s batting in pressure situations “is not what it should be”, he did also point towards the limitations of a bowling attack that twice wilted under pressure from Australia’s batsmen.
The first time was on the third day when, after a tight opening spell, David Warner and Usman Khawaja rattled along at such speed that they punctured whatever momentum Pakistan had built from Brisbane and their first innings here.
Then, on a final day which began with Australia 22 ahead and six wickets down, Pakistan allowed the lead to balloon to 181 half an hour before lunch.
“Those two sessions took the game away from us almost,” he said. “From a winning position, you are on the back foot. We just gave the momentum back to Australia. They were a bit lucky they played well, took their chances, and after that we were in no position to attack.
“Even today, in the morning session, we could’ve taken a couple of wickets. [Mitchell] Starc played well and that was a big blow for us. If we had taken one more wicket, wrapped the tail up, maybe 50-60 runs deficit, it could have been easy for us to handle the situation.”
The taking of wickets has been a particular problem. When Steven Smith declared today, it was the sixth time in the last five Tests Pakistan have played in Australia that the hosts have had the luxury of declaring.
Yasir Shah conceded over 200 runs in an innings for the second time this year, continuing a tour in which he has bowled mostly to fields set for run-saving, rather than wicket-taking.
“I think as a bowling unit, we couldn’t put pressure,” Misbah said. “When the opposition is playing well and you’re not bowling well, then it is difficult to implement any sort of plan, any sort of strategy. That has been happening to us.
“Yasir is a bit low on confidence at the moment. That sometimes doesn’t give you control as a captain. When you have no control, you struggle with your strategies. And it looks to those sitting outside, watching, what’s going on? That’s where I think everything went wrong for us in this Test.”
Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo