‘Hook him’: Great’s plea after ‘crocodile jaw’ blunder

Abdullah Shafique’s horror Boxing Day Test has continued, with Mitchell Marsh this time the beneficiary of yet another dropped catch.

After his costly blunder early on the first day gifted David Warner a chance, the 24-year-old struggled once again on Thursday afternoon, crippling his side’s early dominance with the ball.

With the hosts reeling at 4-16 in the second session and all the pressure on Marsh and Steve Smith to lift them out of a hole, Shafique came up with two more errors behind the stumps.

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First, the opening batter was stood too deep, which allowed an edge from Smith to bounce before it reached the under-fire slips specialist.

While that one can be put down to a number of factors, the next mistake was undoubtedly his fault, and proved extremely costly.

Marsh edged another Jamal beauty in the 16th over, and Shafique spilled another regulation slips catch.

Marsh was just 20 at the time, and would have reduced the Aussies to 5-45. He went on to make another half-century in a stunning 100-run plus partnership with Steve Smith.

His fielding was scolded by Mark Waugh on the Fox Cricket coverage, with the former gripper urging Pakistan to rotate their cordon for the rest of the series.

“I think you’ve got to get Shafique out of there,” he said.

“He has not looked like catching one all series. He’s hung onto one and only just. At some stage you’ve got to get the hook out

“It’s like a crocodile jaw trying to catch a ball. It’s unfortunate but you’ve got to get him out of there.

“How’s he gonna catch the next one? There’s gotta be someone else who can catch. His confidence is so low at the moment.”

Kerry O’Keeffe also lamented the error and the fielding that followed from skipper Shan Masood, and believes it could be a deciding factor in the must-win clash for Pakistan.

“The Test match was on that catch, you have to take it – it’s regulation first slip,” he said.

To make matters worse, Marsh got four after a Shan Masood misfield off the very next ball went to the boundary.

“They’re the most mercurial side in world cricket,” O’Keeffe said.

“They can be absolutely brilliant and then put two balls together like that. The dropped catch and the skipper letting one go through.

“Mitch Marsh just having an absolute hack outside the off-stump.

“That’s a simple grab, that would have been Australia five-down and leading by 70 … the game was on the line.”

Shafique was ultimately moved out of the cordon later in the day, but the damage was already done.

Marsh remains unbeaten and heading towards a century, despite being dropped on just 20 earlier in the day and narrowly surviving an LBW appeal, while Smith remains at the crease in the final session.

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