CANBERRA: Pakistan’s four-day practice fixture against the Prime Minister’s XI, which starts Wednesday at the Manuka Oval, will present a blueprint of the Shan Masood-led side’s potential style of attack in the upcoming three-match Test series against Australia.

Speaking to reporters following the trophy unveiling ceremony of the warm-up game on Tuesday, the Pakistan captain said his team was looking to play the type of cricket “that doesn’t only entertain the country’s fans but those in Australia and around the world as well”.

Shan did not shy away from reiterating that Pakistan’s go-to approach will be aggressive and one which “puts the other side under pressure”.

“Test cricket has changed,” said the newly-appointed Test skipper. “You’ve to score quick runs as a batting unit and you have to take 20 wickets as a bowling group.”

While Pakistan may be able to do so against the PM’s XI – featuring players knocking on the doors of the Australian dressing room – emulating it in the Test matches will be a mammoth task given their poor record Down Under.

Pakistan last won a Test match in Australia in 1995. Shan, therefore, avoided talking much about the results. For him and his team, the series is an opportunity to showcase their abilities.

“Our aim is to display the right attitude and effort since the result is not in our hands,” Shan noted. “This is a challenge, an opportunity, we’ll try to make the most of it.”

Shan must have said so keeping in mind Australia’s stature as a Test side, which, he believed is as complete as a team gets.

“They are the current World Test champions so we can’t target any particular player,” noted the lanky batter. “They have a well-balanced squad, their bowling attack has dominated in different conditions, the batters have scored runs everywhere.

“What matters more is what we bring to the table in this series, I believe we have a team which can play according to the brand of cricket we want.”

The practice match will help Pakistan pick a team for the first Test, which is scheduled to be played in Perth from Dec. 14. The have as many as 18 players to choose from and they are spoilt for choices for few roles.

One of them is that of the wicket-keeper batter and Pakistan have two of them in Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan. Both have strong cases for their selections.

“Sarfraz performed well in the last series we played and it’s always good to go with players who are in form,” said Shan. “Sarfraz played well when we were here in 2016 and Rizwan did so in 2019. We also have to access the conditions before we could make a final call.”

Pakistan have a range of pacers in the squad as well and Shan believed each of them provides a unique dynamic. While pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali bring precious experience, Shan said domestic cricket performers in Khurram Shehzad and Mir Hamza will come in handy. Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shan predicted, will be a good weapon “if the ball does reverse”.

He also expressed his satisfaction over having the services of all-rounders Aamer Jamal and Faheem Ashraf at his disposal.

“Aamer Jamal is an all-rounder that we are keeping an eye on he, works with good pace hammers a good length that might be useful here and we are hoping Faheem Ashraf grows into this role and provide us something with the bat and something good with the ball so we have quite a lot of options and hopefully we will see what we bring out tomorrow and that might reflect what we might go in the Test match,” said the 34-year-old.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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