Pakistan is feeling the cost of a catch miss to some extent. Australia, who started the second innings with a lead of 54 runs in the Melbourne Test, lost 4 wickets for just 16 runs.
Pakistan missed an opportunity to upset Australia. The hosts were supposed to lose the fifth wicket for 46 runs. Mitchell Marsh was batting for 20 runs. In the 16th over of the innings, Amer Jamal’s first ball hit the corner of Marsh’s bat and went to slip. But Abdullah Shafiq, who stood at first slip, could not catch it properly.
Mark Waugh in the commentary room criticized the Pakistani cricketer Shafiq for not being able to catch such an easy catch from Marsh. The former Australian opener was so angry that he asked Shafiq to be thrown off the field.
Marsh was later sent back to the pavilion by Agha Salman with a superb catch. But by that time 96 runs next to the name of this Australian batsman. Marsh, who missed out on a century by just 4 runs, laid the foundation for Australia’s big lead before returning. At the end of the third day, Australia scored 187 runs for 6 wickets. The hosts are leading by 241 runs.
Mark Waugh is considered one of the greatest slip catches of all time. According to Waugh, Shafiq’s arms were spread wider than normal when Marsh took that catch. Commenting on this, Waugh said, ‘It looked like a crocodile trying to make a catch. Get him out of there (the field).’
While re-watching the video of Marsh’s catch, Waugh noticed that as the ball fell from Shafiq’s hand, it was Agha Salman who stood at second slip who had the opportunity to catch it. But Salman was not ready at that time.
For that, the former Australian legend has also put Salman in the dock. Another commentator Isa Guha then commented on this, Salman has come there to relax. And Wah said, ‘I could never be at ease trusting Shafiq. It’s like eating hot conch chips. Can’t even swallow, can’t even hold properly.’
Wah then quipped that there was no way for anyone to be unprepared while fielding alongside Shafiq, ‘You can never be comfortable with someone (like Shafiq) in the side. Sorry Shafiq! He’s a back-stop at the moment.’
A back-stop refers to a player in a position such as short third man, whose focus is more on blocking than catching the ball. Explaining the importance of this catch, Waugh said, ‘That (Marsh’s catch) may have decided the fate of the match’.
Pakistan were in control of the match until Marsh’s catch miss. Australia went into the lunch break losing just 2 wickets in the second innings and lost two more wickets in the second session. Australia lost four wickets for just 16 runs in a batting disaster. On the other hand, Shaheen-Jamal-Hamzad’s excellent bowling took the reins of the match in the hands of the sweepers.
Later, Marsh became the cut throat of Pakistan. ‘Prai’ played an innings of 96 runs with 13 fours off 130 balls in easy batting in ODIs. When Marsh returned as the fifth wicket, Australia scored 169 runs on the scoreboard, leading by 223 runs! Smith too could not stay on the wicket for long after Marsh’s return. In the team’s 187 runs, Shaheen Afridi’s ball was caught by Salman, who scored 50 runs off 176 balls.
Interestingly, two commentators including Mark Waugh criticized Agha Salman for being unprepared next to Shafiq during Marsh’s catch miss, which Salman may have heard. Later, Marsh became a great catch in the hands of this Salman standing at slip. He also arrested Smith.