SYDNEY – Pakistan’s woes in the third Test against Australia have been many and varied, but nothing has frustrated coach Mickey Arthur more than the fielding mishaps that have peppered the first two days.
Arthur was pictured with his head in his hands after one of the much, sometimes almost farcical, slip-ups that studded Australia’s first innings of 538-8 declared.
“It’s very, very, very frustrating, we can’t work any harder on our fielding,” the South African told reporters on Wednesday.
“We catch balls continuously; (fielding coach) Steve Rixon works the guys constantly hard.
“We set ourselves a hell of high standards, I make no apologies for that, and we’ve fallen well short in the fielding department.”
Pakistan’s failure to create pressure for the batsmen and David Warner’s explosive start to the Test with a century inside the first session were other contributing factors to his team’s parlous position in the match, Arthur said.
One glimmer of light was the batting of opener Azhar Ali, who backed up his double-century in the second Test in Melbourne with a 58 in an unbroken third wicket partnership with Younus Khan that got the tourists to Wednesday’s close on 126-2.
“The amount of time he has spent in the field is almost beyond belief,” said Arthur. “For him to keep going and going and going shows a lot of resilience and shows a pretty strong mind.
“To see resistance and character and intent that has been demonstrated by Younus and Azhar has been a real example to the rest of the dressing room.
“Batting is all about intent… It gets you into right positions and allows you to score, and these two guys have shown that.
“We’ll carry on with the same intent and see where that gets us tomorrow.”
Another reason Pakistan need to keep batting for as long as possible is the state of the bowling unit with spinner Yasir Shah carrying an injury and seamer Mohammad Amir on his last legs.
“Yasir has a hamstring strain I think. I don’t believe that it’s a shame. I think he’ll be able to bowl again at some stage in the game,” Arthur said.
“Over the last six months (Amir’s) played a massive amount of cricket and he just keeps going and keeps going. Even though he’s showing a lot of niggles, he hasn’t shirked his responsibility, and he keeps running in for us.”
Australia are 2-0 up in the three-match series.