Pak­istan ready for ‘dan­ger­ous’ Aus­tralia: Arthur

Gulf Times Sport - - CRICKET -

Pak­istan head coach Mickey Arthur ad­mit­ted Aus­tralia will be a “dan­ger­ous” propo­si­tion in the sec­ond Test af­ter they clung on for an im­prob­a­ble draw in a thrilling se­ries opener in Dubai.

Aus­tralia put up a re­mark­able fight­back to deny Pak­istan vic­tory on a wear­ing fifth day pitch, as they avoided de­feat by hold­ing on with just two wick­ets re­main­ing.

Set a daunt­ing 462-run target, Aus­tralia ended on 362-8 as opener Us­man Khawaja an­chored the re­cov­ery with a mag­nif­i­cent 141, ably as­sisted by debu­tant Travis Head (72) and skip­per Tim Paine, who made 61 not out.

Arthur, who took the Pak­istan job in May 2016, told AFP his team will be ready for a rein­vig­o­rated Aus­tralia in Abu Dhabi come the start of the sec­ond match on Tues­day.

“Of course Aus­tralia will be dan­ger­ous af­ter the fight they put up, no doubt about that,” said Arthur. “But I am confident that we are play­ing good enough cricket and we will come harder.”

Arthur, who pre­vi­ously coached his na­tive South Africa and Aus­tralia, said his play­ers were hurt­ing af­ter blow­ing a great op­por­tu­nity to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match se­ries.

“For me it was re­ally dis­ap­point­ing that we did not cross the line,” he said. “But the good thing for us is that it has hurt the play­ers as if we have lost and that for me is a good sign.

“It shows that the boys are get­ting men­tally tough and ma­tur­ing and do not set­tle for sec­ond best any more, and that cul­ture we want to cre­ate is get­ting through to our play­ers and we will be rar­ing to go in the sec­ond Test.”

Pak­istan dom­i­nated the open­ing Test, com­pil­ing a first in­nings to­tal of 482 on the back of cen­turies from Mo­ham­mad Hafeez and Haris So­hail af­ter win­ning a cru­cial toss.

SAR­FRAZ ER­ROR

They then bowled Aus­tralia out for 202 with debu­tant off-spin­ner Bi­lal Asif tak­ing 6 for 36 and fast bowler Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas 4 for 29.

“We cer­tainly got some good runs in the first in­nings, golden runs as there were some good knocks. We then bowled well in the first in­nings but not very good in the sec­ond in­nings on a fifth day pitch,” said Arthur, who praised Aus­tralia’s bat­tling dis­play.

“I think we have got to hand it to them, on a day five wicket with Yasir Shah and Ab­bas – two world class bowlers in your at­tack – we backed our­selves to win the Test.

“We can win nine times out of ten on a fifth day pitch but Khawaja played ex­cep­tion­ally well and Tim Paine played pretty well too and took away the game.”

Arthur con­ceded skip­per Sar­fraz Ahmed should have started with Ab­bas on the fifth morn­ing, af­ter the seamer jolted Aus­tralia with three wick­ets the evening be­fore.

“I told Sar­fraz that we should have gone with Ab­bas and Yasir but he had spo­ken to some se­nior play­ers and they told him to bowl with Wa­hab Riaz.

“The rea­son­ing they gave was that Wa­hab was sup­posed to bring that re­verse swing into play and that there were some patches, but I think our best bowlers (Yasir and Ab­bas) should have been bowl­ing early on,” said Arthur.

Arthur said the in­jury to opener Imam-ul-Haq, who suf­fered a frac­tured fin­ger on the fi­nal day, was a big blow.

“Imam has been bat­ting very well so it’s a loss,” said Arthur of Imam, who scored 76 and 48 in Dubai.

“But that gives an op­por­tu­nity to an­other player to show his tal­ent.”

Pak­istan head coach Mickey Arthur.

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