India scored 212/6 in 20 overs thanks to a gutsy knock by D. Venkateswara Rao (49) and skipper T. Durga Rao (61). However, Pakistan chased down the target with four balls to spare.
Eyeing their first ever Test series win on Australian soil, Pakistan will look to cash on the fractured relationships between two generations of the home side after retired pacer Mitchell Johnson’s outburst against former teammate and opener David Warner’s selection in what is deemed as the southpaw’s farewell series.
Irked by a text message from Warner in April, Johnson dug up the infamous 2018 ball-tampering ‘Sandpaper’ saga, slamming the batter for not owning the scandal, while also pointing fingers at the selectors’ decision to allow a “hero’s send-off to a player at the centre of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket.”
“It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal. Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country,” Johnson wrote in Sydney Morning Herald. “As we prepare for David Warner’s farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?
“Why a struggling Test opener gets to nominate his own retirement date. And why a player at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero’s send-off? … his past three years in Test cricket have been ordinary, with a batting average closer to what a tail-ender would be happy with … Does this really warrant a swansong, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?”
“Now the way he (Warner) is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country. What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper,” Johnson wrote.
While Warner has been in scintillating white-ball form, he has been off-color in the longest format, averaging 32.75 against his career’s 44.43 in the last 12 Test played in Australia.
Johnson, later, came up with a reason for his outburst, and claimed that it got personal when Warner texted him earlier this year after he had responded to Warner’s wife Candice’s comments.
“It was really bad. It was never personal until then, until that point. That is what prompted me to write the article, or part of it, as well. It is definitely a factor,” Johnson said on The Mitchell Johnson Cricket Show podcast.
However, Johnson said that he only regretted writing “Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper”, suggesting if fans were asked to bring something to wave for Warner’s farewell. “It was probably distasteful and something that I think didn’t need to be said,” Johnson said.
While Warner is yet to come out with a reaction, it could be understood that the batter must be preparing to retaliate not by words but with runs from his bat in his last dance in red ball cricket. The highly anticipated three-match Test series kicks off on December 14 at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
For Pakistan, this could be their golden chance to script history as they are yet to win a Test series in 12 attempts Down Under, having lost 14 Tests in a row.
Pakistan’s pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi stated that the visitors are looking to spoil Warner’s farewell series, “We would wish him good luck but we are not hoping for a good end for David Warner in his last Test series against us.”
“This is an important series for Pakistan as we are leading the World Test Championship’s point table at the moment. We don’t have much experience of Canberra, but I am sure the four-day match against PM XI will help us prepare well for the series against the home team starting from Perth,” he added.
The first Test will followed by the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne (December 26-30), and Sydney (January 3-7). On their previous tour, Pakistan lost both Tests by an innings margin. The closest any Pakistan team came was drawing the Test series in Australia way back in 1979.