x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

No more chinks in Australian armour

A confident captain Ricky Ponting says his side has recovered and is ready to challenge England for the Ashes in November after defeating Pakistan in the Test series.

Shane Watson was player of the series, the successful makeshift opener now forming an integral part of the side.
Shane Watson was player of the series, the successful makeshift opener now forming an integral part of the side.

India may be top of the Test rankings with South Africa close behind them, but the Pakistan captain, Mohammad Yousuf, has little doubt that Australia are, by a distance, the best side in the world. Yousuf made the declaration after Australia completed a fourth consecutive whitewash of Pakistan in a Test series yesterday. The 12 wins in a row equals Sri Lanka's record of most consecutive Test victories against an opponent, which, in their case, came against Bangladesh. Set an improbable 438 for victory, or to bat out the fifth day of the third and final Test in Hobart to avoid the clean sweep, Pakistan folded, collapsing from 103 for four to 206 all out. Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz took three wickets each to seal the 231-run win.

"Yes, Australia are the best team in the world because they're a good side with all good players," said Yousuf. "If you see the statistics they have good batting averages, good bowling averages and the wicketkeeper averages nearly 40. They have a good side." Poor fielding was the main cause behind Pakistan's three defeats in Australia, with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal dropping four catches in the Sydney Test, which the visitors lost after dominating for most of the game. Pakistan dropped 14 catches in Australia, the same number they grassed in New Zealand, and Yousuf said: "A lot of catches were dropped, that's why we lost the series, otherwise maybe a different result."

The Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, had no such worries about his side after winning five of the six Tests during the home summer. "I don't see a weak link in our side at the moment," said Ponting. "I'm really comfortable with the way a lot of the guys have come on through the summer. "It's been a great series for us, it's been a great summer for us to tell you the truth. "There was a fair bit of conjecture coming into the summer after the end of the Ashes about where we were going with our Test cricket and I spelled things out pretty clearly to the team about where I thought we were going and I think we have improved a lot through the summer." arizvi@thenational.ae

Australia 519-8 decl & 219-5 decl. Pakistan 301 & (second innings, overnight 104-3): I Farhat c Haddin b Siddle 14 S Butt b Bollinger 8 K Manzoor c Haddin b Hauritz 77 M Yousuf lbw b Watson 23 U Akmal lbw b Watson 15 S Malik c Haddin b Siddle 19 S Ahmed c Clarke b Hauritz 5 M Aamer not out 30 U Gul c Clarke b Hauritz 0 M Asif b Johnson 0 D Kaneria b Siddle 1 Extras (1nb, 3lb, 10b) 14 Total (all out, 86.2 overs) 206 Fall of wicket: 1-11, 2-29, 3-61, 4-83, 5-104, 6-123, 7-189, 8-191, 9-192 Bowling: Bollinger 13-4-31-1 Siddle 15.2-7-25-3 Johnson 21-4-59-1 Watson 17-4-38-2 Hauritz 17-6-30-3 Katich 3-1-10-0