Up­beat Aussies to test Pakistan with bounc­ers

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Skip­per Steve Smith says Aus­tralia’s pace at­tack will test the re­solve of Pakistan bats­men with short-pitched bowl­ing in Bris­bane’s first ever day-night Test from to­day. Smith has yet to fi­nalise his team and hasn’t ruled out play­ing with four pace­men at the ex­pense of spin­ner Nathan Lyon, but he is promis­ing the tourists a work-out on the bouncy Gabba pitch.

With in-form quicks Mitchell Starc and Josh Ha­zle­wood armed with the new ball, Smith said team strate­gists had watched Pakistan’s re­cent se­ries in New Zealand where the tourists slumped to two hefty de­feats. “I think tra­di­tion­ally sub-con­ti­nent sides don’t han­dle the pace and bounce in Aus­tralian con­di­tions,” Smith said yes­ter­day, ahead of the three-Test se­ries. “So you need to try and find ways to ex­ploit that as much as pos­si­ble and at times I’m sure we’re go­ing to see some short­pitched bowl­ing to mess with their feet to find ways to get them out.

“New Zealand ob­vi­ously did a good job, so hope­fully our bowlers can repli­cate that.”

Smith was far more up­beat about Aus­tralia’s chances af­ter stop­ping the rot of five straight Test de­feats with a re­vamped team in Ade­laide late last month. “It’s been a nice turn­around. We’ve won four games on the trot (in­clud­ing three ODIs against New Zealand) as an Aus­tralian team now and hope­fully we can keep that win­ning mo­men­tum go­ing,” he said. Pakistan also have fast bowl­ing am­mu­ni­tion to re­turn fire at the Gabba, led by Mo­ham­mad Amir and Wa­hab Riaz. Smith pin­pointed Amir as a po­ten­tial “hand­ful”.

“He’s a qual­ity bowler. He’s got some great skills. He bowls with re­ally good pace and can swing the ball,” he said.

“It’s great to have those sort of gears and those skills so no doubt he could po­ten­tially be a hand­ful if it’s swing­ing around.” But Smith also warned Pakistan’s leg-spin­ner Yasir Shah to make sure his length was on the mark or the Aus­tralian bats­men would take to him. Yasir has cap­tured 116 wick­ets in just 20 Tests since his de­but against Aus­tralia in Dubai two years ago. “I guess the ex­tra bounce can play in your favour as a spin bowler at the Gabba, but it can also play against you,” Smith said. “Your length has to be spot on, gen­er­ally there isn’t too much turn-it’s more bounce, so length is cru­cial. “And if you’re slightly off your length, you can re­ally cash in down the wicket and square of the wicket as well.” Smith added that rookie opener Matt Ren­shaw, who made his Test de­but against South Africa in Ade­laide this month, was adapt­ing to his new en­vi­ron­ment.

“He’s com­ing out of his shell in the last cou­ple of days. I was im­pressed with the way he played last week and been im­pressed with the way that he trains. —AFP

BRIS­BANE: Aus­tralia’s cricket team captain Steven Smith (R) and his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Mis­bah-ul-Haq hold a tro­phy dur­ing a me­dia call at Gabba in Bris­bane yes­ter­day, on the eve of their first pink ball day and night Test. — AFP

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