AUS Vs PAK, 2nd Test: Abdullah Shafique Drops Mitchell Marsh; Mark Waugh And Waqar Younis Rip Pakistan Cricketer Apart

Pakistan's fielding woes continued down under, this time Abdullah Shafique the guilty party - yet again - as he dropped Mitchell Marsh at a crucial juncture in the match. Pakistan and Australia are battling in Melbourne in the second Test

Pakistan's Abdullah Shafique drops Australia's Mitchell Marsh

Abdullah Shafique's poor fielding Down Under continues. The Pakistani opener dropped yet another catch, this time giving a second life to Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh on Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground Thursday. This is the second big misfield Shafique has committed in the AUS vs PAK, 2nd Test match, which is now poised for an intriguing finish following some brilliant performances from either camp. (IND Vs RSA Scorecard | IND-W Vs AUS-W Scorecard | Cricket News)

Sadly for the 24-year-old from Sialkot, who played a rather classy knock of 62 runs off 109 balls in Pakistan's first innings (264 all out), dropped catches are making him a culprit, and in the words of former Aussie batter Mark Waugh, Pakistan "got to get Shafique out of there". That's one harsh criticism.

Having conceded a crucial 54-run innings lead, Pakistan needed a strong start with the ball in Australia's second essay. Shaheen Afridi's strikes in successive overs at the start, accounting for Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne, then Mir Hamza's clean-up acts to get rid of David Warner and Travis Head, rattled the Aussies at The 'G. The giant scorecard read 16/4 in 5.2 overs.

The fall of Head, Australia's World Cup hero in India, brought Mitchell Marsh, the Player of the Match in Perth series opener, into the picture. The 32-year-old scored 90 and 63 in his usual counter-attacking knocks as Australia thumped Pakistan by 360 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

In Melbourne too, the prodigious talent from Attadale in Western Australia started doing the same -- taking on the Pakistan attack. And at Drinks, Marsh was 20 off 33 with four fours and Australia were 46/4 after 15 overs. Still anybody's game.

Then the very first ball after the break, Abdullah Shafique dropped a straightforward catch at first slip. Aamer Jamal, who was hit for three fours by Marsh in the 14th over, managed to induce a fat outside edge courtesy as a fullish delivery which tempted a drive-happy Marsh to play his go-to shot. Driven but not in control. But all that Shafique could do was drop it and watch Agha Salman at second slip also slip it. 

Mark Waugh, who was present in the commentary box during the incident, tore into Shafique. The former Aussie opener, known for his safe slip catching, added it was like “a crocodile jaw trying to catch the ball.”

Pakistan legend Waqar Younis also didn't hold back. "This might be the moment that Pakistan miss. This was a big, big opportunity which Abdullah Shafique, who is not having a great time in the slip, and this might be the difference between winning and losing this game.

"Pakistan fought so, so hard through all of this match and that catch might cost them this match. Might. They have to catch easy, this was easy for Abdullah Shafique who is having a horror time in the slip," the former fast bowler said. 

Another sitter dropped. On Day 1 of the match, Shafique gave Warner life. In the first Test too, Shafique floored some easy chances.

As it turned out, Mitchell Marsh capitalised, and scored 96 runs off 130 balls before edging a Mir Hamza delivery to Agha Salman at first slip. He was involved in a 153-run stand with Steve Smith, who was unbeaten on 49 off 142 at the time of filing the report. Australia's lead, by the way, was already 223 runs.

For many, a Boxing Day Test, irrespective of whatever happens at the conclusion of the match, is a joyous occasion. But for Shafique, it's a "horror time". And Marsh was showing no mercy.