Pakistan likely to throw spin challenge to Aussies
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan A’s warmup win over Australia has given the senior team a path it hopes will lead to success in the first cricket test starting on Wednesday.
Even without spinner Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan’s only world top-10 test bowler, the hosts are expected to rely on spin to gauge how vulnerable the Australians are after they lost the four-day warmup match by 153 runs in Sharjah last week.
Left-armer Raza Hasan, who took four wickets from 40 overs in the match, could be in line for a debut. He’s in contention for the spin spots with the uncapped Yasir Shah and two-test player Zulfiqur Babar.
“It does affect you when you don’t have senior players, but the way the (Pakistan) A team played they showed it’s all about determination,” captain Misbah-ul-Haq said on Tuesday.
With Ajmal suspended for an illegal bowling action, Pakistan lost the one-day international series 3-0. But Misbah said his untested spinners carry enough experience of bowling long spells in domestic cricket.
“Whoever comes on the international scene he starts inexperienced ... this is how life is,” Misbah said.
“These players are good enough to make their names on the international scene, and I am pretty hopeful that they have the capabilities to prove themselves at this level.”
In the ODI series, Pakistan was let down by the batsmen, including Misbah, rather than the bowlers. Misbah even voluntarily sat out from the last ODI to tune his technique. In the 12 days since the second ODI, he has been in the nets, hoping to put on a better show in the two tests.
“It was a nice break, and I did long practice (sessions),” he said. “The ball is coming onto the bat, and I will try to improve my performance.”
Pakistan’s struggling middle order will be beefed up by the return of test specialists Younis Khan and Azhar Ali, with Asad Shafiq also running into form with a century in the four-day game.
Michael Clarke successfully tested his hamstring in his first competitive match since August but the Australia captain will go into the test with scores of 10 and 5 in the lost four-day game.
“I wouldn’t say lack of form ... there’s certainly a lack of game practice under my belt,” Clarke said.
He added Pakistan will sorely miss Ajmal, while Australia will be banking on fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and offspinner Nathan Lyon, who bagged nine wickets between them in the first two ODIs before both were rested in the third one-dayer.
Spinner Steve O’Keefe also impressed in the warmup match, and could make his test debut alongside Mitchell Marsh, who has recovered from a hamstring injury.