And then there was Babar Azam’s run out, according to Sarfraz the wicket that started it all. “We didn’t handle the pressure well is what I would say. When we had 40 [29 runs left to win] runs, that run out for Babar was the turning point. Our collapse started from there. I would say we didn’t handle the pressure well.
“It is very upsetting to say the least. The way we started off yesterday, we felt we would get through to the target easily. But then we lost three wickets before Asad Shafiq and Azhar struck up a good partnership. The pitch’s behaviour on all four days has been the same. It was important for set players to play on it and capitalise on their starts. We have seen throughout this match that as soon as wickets fall, the teams collapsed, be it us or them.
“As far as the chase goes, we should have achieved that target and it a huge disappointment for the team.”
The pressure on Sarfraz was supposed to ease after this match, with Pakistan looking to convince fans the series against Sri Lanka last year had simply been an aberration. However, with Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s void nowhere close to being filled, and Sarfraz miles from the batsman he was when not laden with the responsibility of captaincy, it is unclear where Pakistan go from here.
For most of the past decade, Sydney 2010 has been the byword for Pakistan at their worst, but it is Abu Dhabi 2018 that takes centre-stage on that list now. Sydney put paid to Kamran Akmal’s future as a Test match wicketkeeper for Pakistan, with none other than Sarfraz making his debut in the following Test. With his place in the Test side, as captain, wicketkeeper and batsman, never more publicly under the microscope than it has been of late, Sarfraz of all people will know how much work he has to do if he is to avoid suffering an eerily circular fate over the coming weeks and months.