Usman Khawaja produced the innings of his career to save Australia, and top our ratings. Picture: Getty
Usman Khawaja produced the innings of his career to save Australia, and top our ratings. Picture: Getty

Player ratings: Uzzy saves twin Marsh failures

USMAN Khawaja silenced doubters, the Marsh brothers entered the record books for all the wrong reasons and Australia miraculously pulled off a stunning draw in a gripping five-day contest.

But who starred and who flopped in the gripping first Test in Dubai between Australia and Pakistan?

We break down the best and the worst from Justin Langer's first Test in charge.

 

Test debutant Marnus Labuschagne congratulates Usman Khawaja after his match-saving knock. Picture: Getty
Test debutant Marnus Labuschagne congratulates Usman Khawaja after his match-saving knock. Picture: Getty

USMAN KHAWAJA - 9.5

85 and 141

Silenced the doubters who peg him as a liability in Asia due to his trouble with spin with two outstanding knocks A polished 85 was the cornerstone of Australia's first innings. But the best was yet to come as Khawaja produced a remarkable century - the best of his career - to steer Australia to an unlikely draw on day five. Khawaja mastered the sweep - and the reverse sweep - to deaden the efforts of Pakistan's spinners with a stoic 302-ball, 524-minute knock. This feels like it will be the true coming-of-age series for a batsman Australia can build around.

 

Usman Khawaja celebrates bringing up his century in Australia’s second innings. Picture: Getty Images
Usman Khawaja celebrates bringing up his century in Australia’s second innings. Picture: Getty Images

AARON FINCH - 7

62 and 49

Finch's entrance to Test cricket has been a long time coming and he didn't look out of place at all - with two composed innings suggesting he has a future at this level. After a nervous start, where he weathered a tough welcoming from crafty leggie Yasir Shah, Finch hit a classy half century as part of a century stand with Khawaja and backed it up with another strong showing in the second innings.

 

SHAUN MARSH - 1.5

7 and 0

No Australian batsman has more experience on subcontinental pitches, and Marsh was promoted to the pivotal No. 3 role in the absence of banned skipper Steve Smith - but failed to deliver. Quick exits in both innings, including a duck in the second, are a woeful return for the man given the responsibility of filling Steve Smith's shoes. Became one half of the first pair of brothers to land ducks in the same innings as the Waughs.

 

Mitchell Marsh had a disappointing Test. Picture: AP
Mitchell Marsh had a disappointing Test. Picture: AP

 

MITCHELL MARSH - 2

12 and 0

0-38

Promoted to the vice-captaincy ahead of this series, the time was perfect for Marsh to deliver an inspiring performance. Instead he became wrapped up in Australia's dismal first innings collapse, trapped on the crease LBW when he should've come forward. And the same thing happened the next day, except this time the all-rounder was gone for a duck. The Ashes centuries he scored seem a distant memory.

 

TRAVIS HEAD - 7

0 and 72

Fought back well after a poor showing in the first innings, where the talented 24-year-old was front and centre as Australia's middle order crumbled. After narrowly avoided getting a pair on a tight LBW call, he dug in with Khawaja late on day four and showed exactly why Justin Langer has so much faith in him. Technically very sound, Head absorbed the pressure but refused to be bogged down - bringing up an impressive maiden half-century before falling 28 runs short of a dream debut Test ton. But without his 175-ball knock, Australia loses this Test.

 

MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE - 3.5

0 and 12

1-29 and 1-9

Australia's third debutant in Dubai, Labuschagne had the magic touch with the ball - taking key wickets in each innings with his more-than-handy leg-spin bowling, effecting a run-out and taking a sharp catch. But he was brought into this team ahead of opener Matthew Renshaw to score runs, and on that front he failed - with a first innings duck and a 13 in day five. With a first class average of 34, there's reason to believe he can bounce back. But from its No. 6, Australia needs runs more than they need a part-time leggie

 

TIM PAINE - 7

7 and 61no

Taking charge of his first Test series since having had the captaincy thrust upon him, Paine had an eventful five days - which, poetically, finished with him blocking Australia to one of the most incredible draws you're likely to see. As ever, his work behind the stumps was exemplary - which is doubly impressive when you factor in the extreme heat and long periods Australia spent in the field. However his captaincy came under the microscope during Pakistan's monster first innings, with former Test stars Mark Waugh and Brett Lee suggesting he erred in waiting to grab the second new ball - and burnt out quicks Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle in the process. All was forgiven, however, with his 194-ball second innings stay at the crease.

 

MITCHELL STARC 5.5

0 and 1

1-90 and 0-18

Match figures of 1-108 are not what you want to see from the leader of your attack, but they don't tell the full story. Starc bowled valiantly on an unforgiving wicket and chalked up an unlikely first as he waited 36.2 overs before snatching a pole - it was the longest he's had to wait to take a wicket in a Test match. He bravely charged in late on day one as his body struggled with cramp. Will he play in Abu Dhabi? It remains to be seen.

 

PETER SIDDLE - 7

10 and 0

3-58 and 0-3

A welcome return to the Test arena for the big-hearted Victorian, who was the pick of the Australian bowlers when the wicket was offering nothing on the first two days. Stuck to relentless line and length, kept the runs down and chipped in with regular wickets. There's life left in the 33-year-old, who also overtook Merv Hughes to become Australia's 13th highest wickettaker.

 

 

Peter Siddle returned Australia’s best bowling figures. Picture: Getty Images
Peter Siddle returned Australia’s best bowling figures. Picture: Getty Images

NATHAN LYON - 7

6 and 5no

2-114 and 2-58

Amazingly, his biggest contribution came with bat rather than ball. Lyon's 34-ball, 48-minute blockathon steered Australia to the draw alongside Tim Paine and showed why he is the heartbeat of this team. Four years after enduring an incredibly difficult series against Pakistan, Lyon showed how far he's grown as a player - and became Australia's fifth greatest wicket-taker in the process.. Conditions were far from favourable but Lyon kept trying. In fact, he's arguably never tried harder. Lyon churned through a mighty 52 overs - a greater workload than he's faced in Test cricket before. He bowled a tight line that was hard to put away, even if the rewards were hard to come by. But he did bring up 310 wickets, drawing him level with Brett Lee on Australia's all-time wicket-takers list. A stunning achievement.

 

JON HOLLAND - 5

0 not out

1-126 and 3-83

Prior to this Test, Holland's only experience this level was a tough time as Australia was towelled up in a 2-0 defeat to Sri Lanka two years ago. Dubai wasn't a whole lot better. As Pakistan built their huge first innings total, they showed particular disdain for the left-arm Victorian, attacking him at every opportunity. Impressively, Holland bounced back in the second innings to snare three wickets and finished with match figures of 4-209 - consistent with his Test average of 54.8.



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