Australian coach Darren Lehmann hit out at his batsmen after the tourists suffered a crushing 221-run defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the first Test in Dubai. Chasing 438, the Aussies were shot out for 216 as spinners Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah picked up nine wickets between themselves in the second innings.
With the exception of David Warner, who made a fluent 133 in the first innings and Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson, who hit dogged half-centuries in the second, none of the other Australian batsmen could muster a fight against a Pakistani spin attack which was already hampered with the absence of Saeed Ajmal. Star off-spinner Ajmal is serving a ban over an illegal bowling action. (Pakistan Leapfrog India in ICC Rankings)
Lehmann blasted his batsmen for getting caught in the wrong foot while hitting the straight ball and stressed they had to correct their technique quickly.
"This is a very good cricket wicket and we didn't adapt well enough and didn't play well enough," Lehmann said. "When you are talking about learning how to play in these conditions we got beaten on the other side - with less spin. You would think it would spin more. We got beaten with straight balls, I think five or six dismissals throughout the game."
"We have to get better at hitting the straight ball, watching the ball for a start, but they are things the guys will work on. Have we learnt anything? I think as long as you are learning all the time. The wickets are certainly different than those wickets I saw in 2013, they are better wickets here."
This is Lehmann's first tour of the sub-continent since taking over as Australia coach from Mickey Arthur in dramatic circumstances last year, weeks before the Ashes in England started in 2013. The side had been blitzed 4-0 in India earlier last year as Michael Clarke's young batsmen found the spin twin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja too hot to handle. The former Australian player made his presence felt with a 5-0 whitewash of England in the Ashes Down Under soon after his appointment and he has been appreciated for infusing a new sense of spirit in the Australian camp.
Even Australian Test skipper Clarke, who had led the team on that horror tour of India, was less than impressed and felt his side should have made 500 on a pitch that did not seem to offer much to the spinners.
To correct matters after a mauling at the hands of Pakistan, coach Lehmann wants his wards to focus on getting good starts at the top of their innings: "We didn't play the way we needed to play in those conditions, didn't adjust well enough. You have got to get through the first 20 or 30 balls and you are okay. [We have to] understand that a lot of the wickets are going to have no spin, so maybe we are trying to play for things that aren't there."
"We were disappointing with the bat, weren't we? We have to find a way to get through that and make big scores. One of the things we haven't done on the subcontinent is make big scores. We need to start piling it on. We should have made 500 on that wicket."
Australia have little time to iron out their flaws as they brace for the second and final Test which starts from Thursday in Abu Dhabi.