Pakistan set to recall Abbas after Gabba nightmare

November 29, 2019

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ADELAIDE: Pakistan cricketers take part in a training session at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.—AFP
ADELAIDE: Pakistan cricketers take part in a training session at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.—AFP

ADELAIDE: Pakistan were set to recall paceman Mohammad Abbas on Thursday for the second Test against Australia as they look to add consistency to their bowling attack under lights at the Adelaide Oval.

Skipper Azhar Ali will also drop down the order to bat at number three in the day-night Test starting Friday, with Imam-ul-Haq set to get the nod to open the innings alongside Shan Masood and Haris Sohail dropped.

Seamer Abbas has taken 66 wickets at just 18.86 in his 14 Tests but was a surprise omission for the opening clash in Brisbane, where Pakistan were crushed by an innings and five runs.

“Definitely there will be some changes,” Azhar said of the team line-up, which will be announced on Friday.

Asked if Abbas would be one of those changes, he replied: “Yes. He’s [Abbas] done well in Test matches, he can definitely bring a lot of control and he has worked a lot since the last Test match on his rhythm and he is feeling better. Obviously a bowler of his class, you feel he has something to offer.”

Azhar would not say who Abbas would replace, but Imran Khan is a candidate after failing to fire in Brisbane. Nasim Shah, 16, could also be rested with Pakistan keen to manage the workload of the teenager, whose mother died recently.

Pakistan desperately need their bowlers to perform in Adelaide, having lost 13 consecutive Tests in Australia.

AUSTRALIAN batsman Marnus Labuschagne practises in the nets during a training session on Thursday.—AFP
AUSTRALIAN batsman Marnus Labuschagne practises in the nets during a training session on Thursday.—AFP

Azhar acknowledged Pakistan have long laboured in Australia, with their inability to bowl the opposition out twice their biggest problem.

“A lot of our tours to Australia we have struggled to pick up wickets. We have to control the rate, bowl in good areas for a long time,” he said. “Wickets in Australia, a lot of people say it is bounce, it is pace. But equally it is good for batting as well, so if you can’t bowl well for a long period of time, you can’t put teams under pressure.”

He added: “If we want to pick up 20 wickets we have to execute our plan perfectly.”

Pakistan have played one pink-ball fixture in Australia — three years ago in Brisbane, when they lost by 39 runs.

Australia, meanwhile, named an unchanged XI, while taking a risk by releasing concussion substitute Cameron Bancroft.

The home selectors resisted the urge to rest one of their strike bowlers or add a fourth to help share the load. That means swing bowler Michael Neser will be 12th man when the Test starts on Friday, with paceman James Pattinson and batsman Bancroft released to play domestic cricket.

“We’re unchanged,” said skipper Tim Paine. “Obviously we thought we played a pretty good game of cricket last week. Our attack is all feeling good and fresh and they have all got great pink-ball records so no need to change.”

Bancroft’s departure to play for Western Australia in Perth means there will be no immediate batting substitute in case of a concussion.

Paine joked: “We’ll just get someone out the crowd,”,before adding: “‘Bangers’ is a couple of hours away on a plane so if anything does happen, we will be able to get him back pretty quickly.”

The decision comes just days after Bangladesh were forced to use two concussion substitutes in one day, with Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan both forced out of their day-night Test against India in Kolkata.

The task facing Pakistan is ominous with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon all in the world’s top five wicket-takers in day-night Tests, while Pat Cummins is the world’s top-ranked bowler.

Australia have won all five pink-ball Tests they have played since the concept was launched four years ago, with Paine warning his pace attack was relishing the chance to bowl under lights on a home wicket.

“That [Adelaide] wicket looks a little bit perhaps drier than it was for the last pink-ball Test we played here against England,” he said. “But as we know, the pink ball always offers enough. Our fast bowlers certainly enjoy bowling with it, particularly under the lights and the games tend to go quite quickly.

“So I think the bowlers are excited to be back in Adelaide. The wicket, for a drop-in wicket, is probably the best drop-in wicket in the world so it offers the fast bowlers something which is very rare for a drop-in wicket.”

Australia go into the match with a settled top order spearheaded by David Warner, Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne, who all fired at the Gabba.

Steve Smith was the exception, out cheaply to leg-spinner Yasir Shah who has now dismissed him seven times in Test matches.

Teams:

AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

PAKISTAN (from): Shan Masood, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali (captain), Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Musa Khan, Nasim Shah, Abid Ali.

Umpires: Michael Gough (England) and Richard Illingworth (England).

TV umpire:. Richard Kettleborough (England).

Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019