Ashes-winning Australia will face unfamiliar circumstances, heavy safety and unpredictable, however proficient, opponents once they start their first Test in Pakistan for twenty-four years on Friday.
Having landed in Islamabad simply three days in the past to be instantly engulfed in “head of state-level safety”, the Australians have had little time to acclimatise to conditions in Rawalpindi, where the first Test will be played.
But they may like what they see as they practise, with a pitch often more conducive to seam bowling than the more typical spinners’ wickets more usually found across Pakistan.
In three Tests played in Rawalpindi since Pakistan were allowed to host matches again in 2019, 10 years on from the fatal terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, fast bowlers have snapped up 52 wickets with spinners only bagging 21.
Australia captain Pat Cummins, fresh from leading his side to a 4-0 Ashes drubbing of England in his first series in charge, admitted it would be all new to his players.
“You know most international players — and conditions — but this series comes with a few more unknowns than perhaps normally, so it’s going to be interesting and challenging,” stated Cummins.
“I’ve an enormous perception in ensuring our personal recreation is so as. We should assume that we’re in nice kind because the Ashes and take a look at that, fairly than on the opposition.”
The Australian will not have encountered some of Pakistan’s players before.
Spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan have come in to replace leg-spinner Yasir Shah and fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, who both starred in Pakistan’s 1-0 win over Australia in the United Arab Emirates in 2018.
“I think the one thing with the Pakistan team is that they have some young guys who come and shine straightaway so it’s a new challenge,” stated Cummins.
Australia haven’t received an away Test collection since their tour of New Zealand in 2016, however have an skilled line-up able to adapting to circumstances.
Opener David Warner and the prolific Steve Smith have scored 15,368 runs between them in 173 Tests, greater than the Pakistan high seven batsmen’s mixed 13,120.
They even have the top-ranked Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne plus the in-form duo of Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja and Travis Head, who each plundered two centuries within the Ashes.
Cummins leads a world-class tempo assault alongside left-armer Mitchell Starc and the fit-again Josh Hazlewood.
They are complemented by Australia’s biggest off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who handed 400 Test wickets within the Ashes and has taken 95 of these in Asia.
Pakistan’s batting will closely depend on the proficient trio of veteran Azhar Ali, skipper Babar Azam and in-form Mohammad Rizwan.
But their opening pair of Abdullah Shafique, who has performed two Tests, with both Shan Masood or Imam-ul-Haq, seems weak.
Pakistan will miss the injured duo of tempo bowler Hasan Ali and fast-bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, whereas one other fast Haris Rauf has examined constructive for Covid.
It means teen sensation Naseem Shah — who grew to become the youngest bowler to take a hat-trick at 16 years and 359 days on the identical venue towards Bangladesh two years in the past — will share new ball duties with Shaheen Shah Afridi.
With Covid circumstances on the wane, the bottom will likely be full to capability with fervent residence assist — the primary three days are bought out.
“It’s the primary Test between the 2 nations in 20-odd years, so its a particular second and we as gamers really feel privileged to be half and I hope that followers come and make noise,” said Cummins.
The second Test is in Karachi beginning on March 12 and the and third in Lahore from March 21.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood, Naseem Shah
Australia: Pat Cummins (captain), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Mark Steketee, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Ahsan Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Asif Yaqoob (PAK)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)