Tim Paine’s Australia are confident after their thrilling draw in Dubai, and the pressure will be on Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan to make the most of home conditions and wrap up the series, reports ICC-Cricket.com.
Australia’s great escape in the first Test in Dubai was one for the ages, but Pakistan will be looking at it as an opportunity lost. Their proud record of never having lost a series in their adopted home in the United Arab Emirates since 2009 was broken when Sri Lanka visited last, winning 2-0. The hosts will want to sort that record out.In the drawn Test in Dubai, Pakistan can be accused of not pressing for the win when the Australians were down. But there are few individual performances that can be faulted. They had contributions with the bat through the order, while their bowlers asked all the right questions with both reverse swing and spin. The pressure will be on captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who after the Asia Cup disappointment, wouldn’t want to apologise to the fans again.
They have been forced to make a change, with opener Imam-ul-Haq fracturing his finger. Azhar Ali could come up the order in his place and will be hoping to rediscover his form.
There were also some concerns with the fitness of Mitchell Starc, although the bowler himself has dismissed suggestions that he needs a rest. Starc and fellow pacer Peter Siddle had a considerable workload in the first innings, but they weren’t always as effective as Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas.
But in Usman Khawaja, who made a record-breaking fourth-innings century, they have a template of how to tackle the spin attack and the assurance that with some application, their plans do work.
Australia: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez.