Pak­istan face big task to win in Aus­tralia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Pace spear­head Mitchell Starc says Aus­tralia plan to in­flict a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow on vul­ner­a­ble Pak­istan in today’s daynight first Test in Bris­bane to set up their three-match se­ries.

The left-armer said Aus­tralia, who lost Test se­ries against Sri Lanka and South Africa re­cently, sense an op­por­tu­nity to strike with Pak­istan strug­gling for form away from home.

The vis­i­tors have never won in 11 se­ries in Aus­tralia, drop­ping their last three se­ries here 3-0 and los­ing their pre­vi­ous nine Tests Down Un­der since 1999.

Their re­cent form in New Zealand on the way to Bris­bane does not en­gen­der con­fi­dence that things will be any dif­fer­ent. They were de­feated there by hefty mar­gins in both Tests, in­clud­ing an ig­no­min­ious col­lapse of nine wick­ets in the fi­nal ses­sion of the sec­ond Test in Hamil­ton.

Starc is con­fi­dent Steve Smith’s new-look team, who halted a run of five Test de­feats in the third Test against South Africa last month, can press their home ad­van­tage at the Gabba where Aus­tralia have not lost in 27 Tests stretch­ing back to 1988.

Pak­istan have never won in four Bris­bane Tests. “They’ve strug­gled in New Zealand and prob­a­bly strug­gle a lit­tle more away from home-they’re re­ally com­fort­able in the UAE (where Pak­istan play their home Tests),” Starc said.

“So it’s a good op­por­tu­nity for us in this Test match to as­sert our dom­i­nance first up, make an im­pres­sion in the first Test of the se­ries, which goes a long way to work­ing out the fi­nal re­sult.”

There is added spice to the se­ries with South African Mickey Arthur now in charge of Pak­istan three years af­ter he was sacked as Aus­tralia coach and re­placed by Dar­ren Lehmann. Arthur, who still lives in Perth, faces the huge chal­lenge of not only end­ing Pak­istan’s drought in Aus­tralia but be­com­ing the first team from the sub-con­ti­nent to win a Test se­ries here.

He has past form when it comes to plot­ting se­ries up­sets in Aus­tralia. In 2008-09 he coached South Africa to a 2-1 vic­tory-the first time any tour­ing team had won a cam­paign in Aus­tralia since the mighty West Indies 16 years ear­lier.

“For th­ese guys to come here and win would be amaz­ing,” Arthur said. “But we are un­der no il­lu­sions. Aus­tralia are a fan­tas­tic cricket team and, in th­ese con­di­tions, it’s go­ing to be very tough for us.” Pak­istan’s big hopes rest with their pace attack led by Wa­hab Riaz and Mo­ham­mad Amir, who is back play­ing Test cricket af­ter a five-year ban fol­low­ing a spot-fix­ing con­tro­versy in 2010. “He’s got great skills, ev­ery­one in world cricket knows that,” Starc said of Amir. “He bowls at good pace, swings the ball, he’s got a fast-arm ac­tion and knows his game re­ally well for a young bowler. — AFP

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