One of the best and the best of the worst

One of the few touring players who made the hosts applaud in the series Getty Images and Cricket Australia


Azhar Ali
Has there been a better performance by a Pakistani batsman in Australia, that too by an opener? Azhar Ali's evolution over this last year, in which he has had to assume opening duties, has been one of Pakistan's happiest gains. In Australia he was outstanding, not least with the MCG double in which his straight-driving, in particular, reached heights he has never hit before. He looked good for another big one in the first innings in Sydney until cut short by poor running. But by series end, he was the wicket Australia wanted most - no Pakistani less deserved to be whitewashed.


Younis Khan
By his own admission, he came to the party late. And it says plenty about his stature that, for one of the very few times in his career, his hundred in Sydney was meaningless for Pakistan. It was still a very good one, a reminder that he is not yet quite done. More than ever, his start is the key: if he survives the first half hour or so, he looks fine, which is why he will be especially disappointed at a pair of 20s at the MCG. A couple of his dismissals were not great looks but if Misbah-ul-Haq goes, it won't be a bad idea for Younis to stay on. Not much action in the slips, though he did drop a chance in the final Test.

Asad Shafiq
He started the series magnificently, with an innings that will not be soon forgotten. But his tailing away thereafter will have disturbed Pakistan, especially as he looked so resolute in his first-innings 50 at the MCG. That one was ended by a good ball, but his three subsequent dismissals hinted at carelessness, and in situations where he is now expected to be extra careful. He still seems not quite to be over the bump produced by being shunted up and down the order. With Misbah on the verge of leaving, Pakistan desperately need him to acquire the kind of ruthlessness Azhar has shown in the last year when cashing in on good form and good starts.

Wahab Riaz
By a distance the best of the worst bowling performance by a Pakistan bowling attack. By the last Test, he was the only one of them who looked up to the task of playing Test cricket. He was at the heart of Pakistan's best bowling day of the series, the second at the Gabba. He was also at the heart of their most indisciplined phase, the third afternoon at the MCG where he imploded with a blitz of no-balls. It was, frustratingly, an outstanding spell of full-length, super-fast bowling, but little of it was legal and it was a big part of the reason Pakistan ceded advantage there and with it, the series. In Sydney, he showed off his range, slowing down and concentrating on keeping the run rate down. It felt like a coming of age, but a very strange one.


Sarfraz Ahmed
Don't be fooled by the high batting average. That was the result mainly of a pointless but pretty unbeaten 72 in Pakistan's last innings of the series. This was a poor series for Sarfraz, one where his glovework to spin especially was shown up alarmingly. It has always been poor but here, he looked lost. He missed three stumpings in Sydney, hardly even moving for them, and shelled what was, in hindsight, the most critical chance of the series; that of Steven Smith in the first innings at the Gabba, when he was on 48 and dinner just round the corner. He looked as he always does with the bat and ordinarily, Pakistan would be fine with his returns. But those missed chances are becoming impossible to ignore.

Mohammad Amir
Once he had taken four wickets at the Gabba, it seemed finally as if the glut of wickets he had been threatening would come in this series. Instead, he took one more in the second innings and then none in the 57 overs he bowled in the series after that. At the MCG he was especially unlucky, tormenting David Warner in a wonderful opening spell and beating the bat through Australia's mammoth reply. But a heavy workload finally caught up with him and in Sydney he bowled as poorly as he has done since his return. His batting, though, has come along nicely, raising hopes that Pakistan may finally have a handy No. 8 in their lower order.


Sharjeel Khan
He is not, as we all knew, Pakistan's David Warner. He is, however, an intriguing option as Test opener. As that second-innings blitz in Sydney showed, he has more shots than are attributed to him. It is an experiment Pakistan can continue with.


Yasir Shah
What a fall. This was always going to be a tough series for Yasir, but could anyone have imagined he would be treated the way he was? He went at over 4.5 per over and it honestly felt like he was going for more than that. He claimed the strange, defensive leg-side line but that is difficult to believe given how Misbah manages his spinners. At least if, between them, they had attempted to attack when the series was alive, it would be some consolation. But Yasir became a stock bowler by the end of it, a man to just get the overs in because nobody else was around. Azhar and Nathan Lyon spun the ball more than him and Azhar genuinely has a better googly. Pakistan will hope desperately that Warner's assault on him in the second innings at the SCG is not the undoing of Yasir.

Sami Aslam
Mickey Arthur was at pains to point out Aslam does have a long-term future with Pakistan and he is right: he does. But he needs to bring a little bit of the expansiveness that he does possess into his Test game. He bats too long for too few runs, a fatal flaw for an opener.

Sohail Khan
Nothing new emerged from his single outing here. He is, as the management has said time and again, not fit enough and that outweighs whatever he brings with the new ball. Australia exposes bowling and fielding fitness like no other country and so it did with Sohail. Shame because with his tonking abilities with the bat, as a fun maiden fifty showed, he can be a real asset.


Easily the worst series of his career. With the bat he continued making a string of regrettable choices, an indication that mentally he is not quite in the right place. But it was his decisions as captain that inflicted more harm upon Pakistan's cause. In particular, the strategy for Yasir made no sense and no amount of justification that they wanted to curtail Warner's scoring areas will make that better. Never has he led by rote as much as he did here; Yasir would always come on after 10 or 11 overs and the fast bowlers never bowled in tandem beyond the shine of the new ball. It should be his last series and if it is, it will be a sad way to go.

Babar Azam
Who knows what damage Pakistan may have done on this batting diamond of theirs by playing him at one down through the series? Australia is no place for inexperienced men at that position. He got three starts and lived up to the hype in each, but the sense of building an innings is not complete just yet. By the end, Josh Hazlewood had worked him over thoroughly around his pads.

Rahat Ali Emblematic of the problems of Pakistan's pace attack when operating outside the UAE. He has consistently given away the advantage on the first day of Pakistan's away series by not working out which lengths to bowl and he did again at the Gabba. Needs to become sharper about his game.

Imran Khan This is what happens when you keep a fast bowler in the squad but never play him. Imran has been in Pakistan squads over the last year and more, but played only a handful of times. In between he has hardly played any first-class cricket and it showed in Sydney where it became clear that his pace - never extreme - has faded away alarmingly.