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Sport Comment: Pakistan dangerous, but underprepared for Australian Test series

23:25  15 november  2019
23:25  15 november  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Pakistan have not played a Test match since early January. Do they honestly feel playing a three-day match at night and a two-day match in Perth will get Personally, what I am looking for in this Test series is the improvement of Babar Azam. Pakistan already have some class with the bat in Azhar Ali

Pakistan and Australia meet in a two- Test series in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday week - and punters' pointers are poised to go big on the As discussed previously, touring teams are struggling to compete in Test series . Shorter tours with no warm-up matches, the erosion of technique caused by

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Australia has had the perfect start to this summer campaign with some comprehensive floggings of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Now the Tests begin, and I am starting to feel the same could happen to Pakistan in this upcoming two-Test series.

First and foremost, I blame Pakistan’s cricket board for their horrendous scheduling of this Test series. Pakistan has not played a Test match since early January. Do they honestly feel playing a three-day match at night and a two-day match in Perth will get them ready to be competitive against Australia? Really?

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Australia vs Pakistan , 1st Test - Live Cricket Score, Commentary. Pakistan have lost their last five Tests away from home Lost by inns & 55 runs vs ENG, Leeds 2018 Lost by 6 wickets vs RSA, Centurion 2018 Lost by 9 wickets vs RSA Best comments will be published by our commentators.

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Babar Azam of Pakistan bats during the International Tour match between Australia A and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Perth, Australia. © Paul Kane/Getty Images Babar Azam of Pakistan bats during the International Tour match between Australia A and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Perth, Australia. Both Test matches will be played in Brisbane and Adelaide and their bounce will be completely different to Perth. Why didn’t Pakistan schedule a three or four-day match when their T20 matches against Australia were on in Adelaide or at the Gabba? Pakistan could have easily put together a decent team to take on a state side while the international T20s were on. Asian players need at least three matches to get used to our conditions and this itinerary will not help them much.

On Pakistan’s last tour here, the batting was decent. As a batting team, they averaged 29.77 runs per wicket. But the bowling didn’t click: Pakistan averaged 61.63 with the ball while conceding 4.25 runs per over. That was the main reason for Pakistan’s 3-0 defeat. And the same question will be asked now. Their batting is good ... but will their bowling stand up?

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a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Pakistan's Babar Azam starred against Australia A in Perth. © Getty Images Pakistan's Babar Azam starred against Australia A in Perth. Personally, what I am looking for in this Test series is the improvement of Babar Azam. Pakistan already has some class with the bat in Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq but watch out for this guy Babar, he is one classy player.

I remember years ago, the now Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan whispered to me that if you wanted to conquer the world of cricket, you needed to have three or four bowlers who could bowl faster than 140 km/h. Well, Pakistan has not disappointed their beloved PM by selecting three kids in Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa who all manage that. This will be a big tour for them and huge for their future development.

a cricket player during a game: Young paceman Naseem Shah has commanded plenty of interest. © Getty Images Young paceman Naseem Shah has commanded plenty of interest. Maybe for the Adelaide Test, Pakistan might even select all of them with Iftikhar Ahmed being the only spinner. Now that would be cool.

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Likely team for the Gabba in the first Test:

IMAM-UL-HAQ

I like this tough left-hander. The Australians will try to bounce him and then try to nick him off. If he can score off the back foot and make the Australians bowl to him, then I feel he will have a good tour. The question will be asked of Imam: how good is your back foot defensive play?

SHAN MASOOD

Shan is normally a specialist white ball player. I saw him make his only Test century in Sri Lanka a few years back and he looked a good player. Shan is very good off the back foot, but it will be his forward defensive play and the ability to leave the ball on length outside off stump that will test him.

AZHAR ALI (captain)

The skipper is a tough nut and he already averages 58 versus Australia with three hundreds. He has been in good form in Pakistan and plays well away from home. Azhar is very organised in defence and in attack. Not the greatest runner between wickets, he has been involved in a few run-outs.

ASAD SHAFIQ

Another quality player who averages nearly 40 away from Pakistan. Like Azhar, Asad is very organised in his game. Plays a lot off the back foot and deflects the ball well. Bowling a little fuller is the key to his dismissal as he gets bowled or is out lbw a fair bit. Asad is a player who can set up the match for you, but he relies heavily on others to finish the game off.

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BABAR AZAM

Babar is a potential superstar of world cricket. Since the start of 2018, Babar has averaged more than 50 in every format of the game. He has ample time to play his shots and never seems to be rushed or ruffled. A good Test series here will be huge for his growing reputation around the world. The Australians will try to bounce him and get into his rib cage. His battle with the Australian quicks will be the reason I will be watching this series!

IFTIKHAR AHMED

Iftikhar had a very good T20 series and he has been the most prolific run scorer in Pakistan over the past three years. Where he could get in trouble is his tendency of wanting to play the pull or hook shot off the front foot. Now that can get you into serious trouble when guys bowl 140km/h at you. Iftikhar has only played one Test but he is a very good player and the Australians need to treat him with respect.

MOHAMMAD RIZWAN

Rizwan has taken over from Sarfaraz Ahmed as the Pakistan wicketkeeper and he knows there is some serious pressure on him to perform. A good tour here could cement his spot in the team for the next 12 months. The red ball game suits his batting style more than the white ball. Rizwan has made lots of runs in Pakistan first class cricket and he scores his runs mainly behind the wicket as he camps a lot on the back foot.

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NASEEM SHAH

This 17-year-old is fast and furious. He also knows where they are going. In just six first-class games, Naseem has already taken two five-wicket bags. He’s quick (145km/h plus) and aggressive. He is also very good at reversing the ball. Naseem’s major problem is not to get too carried away with the bounce and carry. Sure, bounce a few guys to let them know he is around, but then he has to go back to good line and length. Pakistan’s bowling coach in Waqar Younis has a big role to play here to help the youngsters know where and how to bowl in Australia. It’s terribly sad that Naseem’s mother died while he was on tour but I’m sure the players will surround him with love.

YASIR SHAH

I hear Yasir is very much down in confidence with some poor form of late. He is not a huge turner of the ball. He does beat a few right-handers on the inside edge of the bat. The Australians’ tactics should be to not let him settle down on a line and length. They need to attack him early in the over and hurt him as much as they can. His bad ball tends to be dragged in short, if he knows that the batsmen are running at him.

SHAHEEN AFRIDI

I love this tall left-handed left arm quick as he can swing it both ways. Another young lad who is 19, Shaheen will enjoy the bounce that his height will provide. I feel the World Cup was the making of him as a bowler. This guy has a very good bouncer and is quicker than you think. Another player who Australia should watch out for.

MOHAMMAD ABBAS

What an amazing bowler this guy is. His record is pure. Even though Abbas only bowls around 130km/h, he has already taken 66 wickets in just 14 Tests, with four five-wicket bags coupled with a 10-wicket match. Abbas has no problem swinging the new ball both ways. His strength is his amazing accuracy of line and length. It won’t take him long to swing the old ball as he can reverse it as well. The Australians know how good this guy is and will show him lots of respect, I can assure you. How David Warner plays Abbas is crucial to Australia’s success.

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The obvious problem for Pakistan is their lack of preparation for this tour. They have a very inexperienced and unknown bowling attack but this could work in their favour. However, I do worry about the fitness of the young kids bowling in long spells and this will be a major concern for their coach Misbah-ul-Haq.

Fortunately for them, their form in the game against Australia A was OK. Let’s hope that is a good omen for them to be a little more competitive than we expect.

Pictures: Cricket stars then and now

Pakistan teen breaks down prior to Test debut .
Pakistan debutant Naseem Shah fights back tears after being presented with his first Test cap following his Mother's passing.The 16-year-old made history by becoming the youngest player ever to debut against Australia and the ninth youngest debutant in Test history. It's been an emotional month for Shah whose mother passed away last week during Pakistan's tour match against Australia A.

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