Pakistan were blown away for 59 and 53 in the second Test against Australia in Sharjah on this day in 2002, which saw their cricket touching rock bottom.
The Australian cricket team was at its dominant best during the start of the 21st century. Under the captaincy of Steve Waugh, they had dismantled opponents in grand style. After ending the reign of the West Indies in Tests, it was the turn of Australia to be the No.1 ranked side in the world. But, their initial start was not too great. They had lost a series and Test for the first time in Sri Lanka in 1999 and were denied by India in 2001 by a historic effort by VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in Kolkata. Against every other opponent, Australia was ruthless.
No one felt this greater than Pakistan. In their rivalry, prior to 1999, Australia had a 15-11 head-to-head advantage against Pakistan. Somehow, the Aussies had managed to maintain their positive ratio against a Pakistan side that had legends like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Sarfraz Nawaz, and Zaheer Abbas. But, all that changed in 1999. Australia clean-swept Pakistan 3-0 in Australia and it was the beginning of a period of torment for Pakistan against Australia.
Having earlier dominated Pakistan in 1999, it was the turn of Australia to tour Pakistan. But, security fears in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the USA meant that touring Pakistan was unsafe. The war in Afghanistan had added a different dimension of fear in the country. Thus, Australia and Pakistan played three Tests with the first one in Sri Lanka and the other two in the UAE.
In the first Test in Colombo, Pakistan put up a great fight. They were missing some squad members due to injury. However, they did themselves proud against an Australian attack that included Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, and Glenn McGrath. Shoaib Akhtar produced a brilliant spell of 5/5 in the second innings that boosted Pakistan. But, Warne’s 11 wickets in the match gave Australia a hard-fought 41-run win in Colombo.
Heading into the second Test in Sharjah, the conditions were extreme. It was 51 degrees. Such was the heat that the drinks break would be 20 minutes. The pitch was flat and devoid of any assistance for the bowlers. In these conditions, the hosts would have dominated Australia. However, all that changed in what would be a nightmarish show for them.
Pakistan chose to bat against Australia but they were immediately in trouble. Imran Nazir and Taufeeq Umar, the openers, departed without scoring. The rest of the batting simply collapsed under the discipline of Glenn McGrath, Warne, Andy Bichel, and Brett Lee. Abdul Razzaq was the only player to have reached double figures but he fell for 21. Warne, bamboozling batsmen with the straight deliveries, was the pick of the bowlers with 4/11 in 11 overs. Pakistan folded for 59, their lowest score in Test history. It eclipsed the previous best of 62 that was set in Perth in 1981.
By Tea on the first day, Australia had romped ahead. The temperatures were brutal for the visitors but they carried on. The heat impacted Pakistan more than Australia. Matthew Hayden already decimated a deflated Pakistan bowling to notch up a century. They were handicapped with Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis bowling just 22 overs. Saqlain Mushtaq was the pick of the bowlers with 4/83. Hayden blasted 119 and aided by knocks of 37 and 44 from Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting, Australia notched up 310, a lead of 251 runs.
When Pakistan came out to bat in the final session on the second day, many expected them to put up a fight. But, the capitulation was even more spectacular. Things started badly when Taufeeq Umar was run-out, handing him a pair. When Razzaq’s wrist was broken by a bouncer from Brett Lee, Pakistan’s fight was also broken.
Warne was once again the tormentor with 4/13 in 6.2 overs. Pakistan’s first innings had lasted 31.5 overs. In the second innings, it became worse. Pakistan was bowled out for 53, with their previous lowest total being eliminated within one day. Australia won the match by an innings and 198 runs. The entire Pakistan batting, stretched across two days, lasted just 56.4 overs. Australia had batted 92.1 overs.
The humiliation was not complete. Pakistan had lost a Test match in two days. What was even more galling was the fact that they lost by an innings and seven runs to Matthew Hayden alone. Their combined aggregate of 112 was seven lower than Hayden’s efforts. Australia went on to sweep the series 3-0 but the humiliation of Sharjah lingered on.
Pakistan was swept 3-0 in 2004 and 2009 in Australia. They would end their 15-year jinx of not winning a Test in Australia by securing a tense win in Leeds. Four years later, Pakistan would win a series after 20 years against Australia by sweeping them 2-0. But, when one talks about humiliation in the chapter of Pakistan cricket, the 59 and 53 in Sharjah will always be the focal point of shame.