Australia vs Pakistan: Azhar Ali believes his team can compete with hosts in the Test series

Sport360 staff 21:30 20/11/2019
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Pakistan and Australia may be the top two teams in the ICC T20I rankings but there is certainly scope for improvement in the longest format, as they occupy seventh and fifth spots respectively in the Test rankings.

With their new-look team and having lost their past 12 Tests in Australia, Pakistan, led by Azhar Ali, will be the underdogs going into the series. However, the new skipper is confident of his team’s ability to compete and possibly surprise the hosts.

“Pakistan has played good cricket here before and we have also played well and lost. But now we understand the conditions. I don’t see why we cannot win Down Under,” he said.

“We know that playing in Australia is a challenge and that they [Australia] will try to win no matter what, but we are ready for them,” he added.

Ali also confirmed that teenage sensation Naseem Shah will be part of the playing XI on Thursday.

The buzz around the series has been about Pakistan’s trio of young and inexperienced pacers – Shaheen Afridi, Muhammad Musa and Shah.

Tim Paine, Australia’s captain, is undeterred by the element of unknown in the opposition ranks and is confident that his team is well prepared for the series.

“We’ve prepared for all of them. That’s the thing with Pakistan, they have a lot of different options, a lot of skill and by the looks of it a fair bit of pace,” said Paine.

“So we’ve made sure we’ve looked at as much footage as possible of their pace attack, and their batters.

“What we don’t want is to go out there tomorrow at some stage and be surprised by something we see, whether that’s their spinner, their quicks or their batsmen. So we’ve done our research.”

When asked about Shah, who bowled a good eight-over spell against Australia A in Perth in the practice game, the 34-year-old acknowledged the youngster’s potential.

“He looks like a really, really exciting talent,” he said. “Pakistan have got a knack of finding these young fast bowlers so it looks like they have another one to add to that rich history of fast bowlers that they seem to produce.”

The first Test of the two-match series between Australia and Pakistan starts on Thursday at The Gabba in Brisbane.

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