Pat Cummins declaration tactics, Alex Carey, Karachi wicket

There are fears of a Rawalpindi repeat in Karachi where Australia has refused to budget with the bat, reaching 8-505 after 180 overs in the second Test.

But despite widespread criticism, there could be method to Pat Cummins’ madness.

All this and more in our Talking Points from day two of the second Test.

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Australia has refused to budget with the bat in Karachi.Source: AFP

AUSSIES, CUMMINS UNDER FIRE OVER RAWALPINDI REPEAT

No one wants a repeat of what we saw in the first Test in Rawalpindi, where only 14 wickets fell in five days and the match looked an obvious draw from as early as day two.

A similar sentiment is spreading about the second Test in Karachi where Australia has followed a similar path with the bat.

Having won a crucial toss, Australia has at no point accelerated with the bat and has now been at the crease for two full days.

Many expected captain Pat Cummins to put Pakistan in to bat after a flurry late on day two, but neither of those outcomes eventuated, drawing plenty of criticism.

“I don’t understand what the Australians are thinking here, because their run rate is still under three an over,” Pakistan great Waqar Younis said.

“If they want to win this game they’ll need to get a move on.”

Former Australia opener Simon Katich said he was “honestly surprised”, adding: “I honestly thought they would come out here and try to move the game forward”.

Commentator and former England batter Rob Key said: “It’s a long, long way out with a long way to go to be thinking so defensively.

“You can’t be playing for the draw from now.”

What happens next will go a long way to shaping how we view the early stages of Cummins’ captaincy.

Given England’s limp performance at the Ashes, Cummins had few really big decisions to make with a Test result on the line.

The only such example was in Sydney where he put England in to bat late on day four despite rain being a threat for day five.

In the end, there wasn’t enough time as England survived for a draw with just one wicket in hand.

If the Karachi wicket fails to break up (more on this below), then it’s unlikely that an earlier declaration would make much difference.

If it does, however, Cummins will be desperate for 20 wickets otherwise Australia’s tactics on day two will come back into sharp focus.

METHOD TO THE MADNESS

Despite the concerns, we might have seen enough to suggest this won’t be a Rawalpindi repeat.

In Rawalpindi, the pitch was almost as good to bat on day five as it was on day one with no obvious disintegration helping the spinners, or providing variable bounce.

On day two in Karachi, there were some more promising signs.

Midway through the day, some extra spin beat Usman Khawaja’s outside edge to give Sajid Khan a brilliant wicket. The same saw Cameron Green undone by Nauman Ali.

Big-spinning deliveries were far from a regular feature on day two, but they did become more frequent, while there was also a growing unpredictability by the end of the day.

Alex Carey was stunned on 93 when a delivery from Babar Azam stayed low and crept underneath his bat as he attempted a sweep shot, which to that point, he had played well all innings.

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We also saw far more evidence of reverse swing on Sunday than we did all first Test in Rawalpindi, which will have Mitchell Starc licking his lips.

Carey said after play that the plan has been to bat big in the first innings in more favorable conditions and hope to claim a series win.

He added: “I know that might sound interesting, but it’s starting to be a little bit variable, inconsistent, there was reverse-swing at times throughout the day.

“The more runs we can get in this first innings, it sets us up for the back end.

“But I think the wicket is starting to show a little bit of life now, or the opposite, it’s inconsistent, some patches are starting to open up a little.

“I think the game will move quicker going into the back end of tomorrow and day four and day five.”

CAREY BUYS HIMSELF TIME – BUT BIG TEST STILL TO COME

Australia’s big performer on day two was Alex Carey, and boy, did he need it.

Arguably no player in Australia’s XI has been under more pressure than the wicketkeeper who has failed to make his mark since debuting at the Ashes.

Prior to Sunday, his average was 20.20 from 10 innings while his glovework had left something to be desired after a number of drops at the Ashes and in the first Test.

Australia’s big performer on day two was Alex Carey.Source: AFP

Favorable conditions in Karachi they may be, but Carey looked largely in control on Sunday to make some sorely needed runs.

The left-hander swept, and reverse swept, well as he made his way to his highest Test score of 93 from 159 balls.

The vast majority of his innings was batting with the tail — an extra responsibility he carried well to execute Cummins’ demands of going big in the first innings.

Ironically, it was the sweep shot that brought about Carey’s demise with stumps in sight, but his innings has bought him some crucial time in the Test arena with Josh Inglis waiting for a shot.

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“Guess it was a little bit of reward for some hard work,” Carey said after play.

“I have full trust in my ability, the summer was really enjoyable… I went away from there with some learnings and take outs.

“I feel like over the last couple of years I’ve been pretty consistent in red-ball cricket, the last dozen games in first-class haven’t been my strongest but still feel really good out in the middle.”

Nevertheless, there’s still a big job to do with the gloves over the next two days.

His past few Tests haven’t been the cleanest behind the stumps, but any extra spin and variable bounce will be a big challenge for him, and not just the batters.

Should he pass the thorough examination, then Carey’s long-term Test prospects will be looking healthy once more.

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