New faces to take on Australians in Pakistan


Australia will face unfamiliar faces for the opening Test in Rawalpindi next week, with just two members of Pakistan’s XI from their last win over Australia playing in the three-match series.

Established names like skipper Babar Azam, veteran Azhar Ali, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan and pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi will lead the home side in the three-Test series, but bowling stars Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah as well as stalwart batsman Asad Shafiq have been on the outside for Pakistan’s recent Test resurgence and have not been named in their 15-man squad.

In their place were fast man Hasan Ali, reborn southpaw Fawad Alam, all-rounder Faheem Ashraf and new spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, all of whom played key roles in Pakistan winning seven of their nine Test matches. in 2021.

Highlighting player turnover since Australia’s last away campaign against Pakistan in late 2018, the top five runners in this series – former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, veterans Shafiq, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Hafeez and the opener Fakhar Zaman – are all out. .

Seamer Abbas, who took a record 17 wickets in just two Tests in this series, leg spinner Yasir, the fastest man ever to 200 Test wickets who scored a century against Australia in 2019, as well as out-spinner Bilal Asif, who took six wickets on his Test debut against Australia in 2018, have also fallen out of favor.

Seven members of the Australian team from this 2018 series – Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Agar – are back for this campaign.

Australia plans reverse swing and spin

In the final test meeting between the two sides, in Adelaide in 2019, Australia will be short three players – Tim Paine, Joe Burns and Matthew Wade – while Pakistan will be short five – Abbas, Yasir, Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed and Muhammad Musa. .

Pakistan’s recent success has been built on their new bowling attack, led by 21-year-old Afridi and right hander Hasan, who were the most prolific fast bowlers in Test cricket last year with a total of 88 wickets at just 16.60.

Given that versatile player Ashraf provides a third bowling option and can batter in the top seven, the hosts could once again choose a double spin attack from left hander Nauman, who took 19 wickets from 27 in seven Tests l last year, and off-spinner Sajid, who went 8-42 in a Test against Bangladesh in December.

However, with Ashraf and Hasan reportedly under a cloud of injuries and the opening Test in Rawalpindi set to favor the tailors, the hosts could take a different approach.

“There is no mystery (Nauman and Sajid) but they are very accurate,” former Pakistani striker Bazid Khan, who will commentate on the series, told recently.

“Nauman Ali plays quite flat, almost like (India’s Ravindra) Jadeja, there or thereabouts. He will test you on the front foot.

“Sajid will spin the ball a bit more and roll a bit slower.

“(Yasir) was overtaken by those two spinners… (his) form went down a bit. He was a threat in the UAE, but once things came back to Pakistan, it’s not the same.”

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Big Bash star Haris Rauf, who has yet to make his Test debut, is the only other front row fast bowler in the Pakistan squad, although teenage speedster Naseem Shah – who made his debut at Brisbane in 2019 – expected to be drafted due to Hasan injury.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Australian fans will be the absence of Abbas, who took 90 wickets in 25 Tests at 11:02 p.m., the third-lowest bowling average in Pakistan’s history.

Watch all of Mohammad Abbas’ wickets against Australia

But the right-hand man has averaged 37 in the three-and-a-half years since destroying Australia in 2018.

“He particularly excelled in the United Arab Emirates, where the ball didn’t go into the bat at all,” Bazid said. “You almost had to get hit on the pads one more time.

“But it won’t be as difficult in Pakistan because the ball will come more on the bat.

“Hasan Ali has had a phenomenal comeback year in Test cricket (in 2021). He will skid the ball and (the bowl) reverse the swing. Especially when the ground gets slightly lower, he is more dangerous. Naturally he gets the ball off the surface, but once it drops down and joins the stumps, it gets a lot of LBW and balls.

“Shaheen Shah Afridi, with the new ball he plays quite full and swings it. And then in his returns he always has the rhythm to shake you up when he plays back a length or even a short thing .”

He will also miss the series fly-half Abid Ali, Pakistan’s top scorer last year, who is recovering from heart surgery after experiencing chest pains in a Premier League game in December.

His absence means one of the Shan Masood or Imam-ul-Haq, who opened together in the 2019 Adelaide Test, will join the squad to partner rookie Abdullah Shafique at the top of the order.

No 3 Azhar and No 4 Babar will then be followed by Alam, who celebrated the end of their 11-year test exile at the end of 2020 with a century in New Zealand before adding hundreds in Karachi, Harare and Kingston last year.

Wicketkeeper Rizwan, who has dominated with the bat in every format in 2021, is expected to bat at No. 6. The right-handed batting average of 43.59 from 18 tests as a keeper puts him behind only AB de Villiers , Andy Flower and Adam Gilchrist among goalie-beaters to have played 15 or more Tests.

Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022

Pakistani team: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood. Reserves: Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Haris

Australia Test Team: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc , Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. Standby: Sean Abbott, Brendan Doggett, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Renshaw

March 4-8: First try, Rawalpindi

March 12-16: Second try, Karachi

March 21-25: Third try, Lahore

Australia ODI and T20 team: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi

March, 31st: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi

April 5: Only T20I, Rawalpindi

All matches will be shown in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports