Pakistan will be at an advantage in the series since the weather will be similar to Pakistan and the pitches will be prepared under the guidance of the Pakistan team management.—Reuters

The upcoming series between Pakistan and Australia in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) gives Pakistan a golden opportunity to beat Australia after a long time. Pakistan will be at an advantage in the series since the weather will be similar to Pakistan and the pitches will be prepared under the guidance of the Pakistan team management.
Furthermore, the crowds will also be largely in support of Pakistan, considering the large expatriate Asian population in the UAE as well as close proximity to Pakistan, which will allow fans to travel with ease. Although the fans will miss the batting of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey as well as the pace of Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, this also gives an added advantage to Pakistan.

The pitch in Abu Dhabi is expected to have a low bounce which also gives Younis Khan`s men an advantage since they are more used to such pitches.  The Australians have recently lost a series to South Africa and are at their lowest ebb in almost ten years. Since the loss of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath the Australians have found it difficult to bowl teams out in all forms of the game.
Another advantage Pakistan has is that Australia has been displaced from the top of one day rankings and this should give Pakistan more confidence. Having said that, the Australians have the advantage of playing regular cricket recently which Pakistan has not, although we did get the first look at the Dubai pitch in two recent practice games.

In terms of team combination the Australians will be reliant on stand-in captain Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, a player that has impressed me, as well as Callum Ferguson. The Australian team has been strengthened with the inclusion of all-rounders Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds, who have rich experience of one day cricket. 

As far as the Pakistan team is concerned, we have a new-look team under Younis who is an excellent professional and a fighter to the core. The opening pair of Salman Butt and Nasir Jamshed is backed by two specialist batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. Our team is further strengthened by all-rounders Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi and Fawad Alam. Thus, the middle order also gives three varieties of spin, i.e. right-arm off-spin, right-arm leg-spin and left-arm spin. The late middle-order of Kamran Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat and to some extent Umar Gul provide Pakistan with more depth in the batting department. 

Pakistan`s fast bowling has always been formidable, from the days of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who used to make the most of the limited support given to fast bowlers on batsmen friendly wickets. In this series we will be dependant on Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Rao Iftikhar, who might not be in the same league as their predecessors but still have plenty to offer to the pace department. 

Although Shoaib Akhtar`s inclusion will boost the team, the sand-based heavy outfield of Abu Dhabi may cause him some problems, although if in top form and fully fit, he can cause problems for the Australian team. I wish all the luck to Younis and his team for the forthcoming series.

Some talk of the recent setbacks now. I was most disturbed when I heard that Pakistan will miss out on hosting the World Cup 2011. This is a great loss for the nation and all efforts should have been made to stop this from happening. It is believed that if Pakistan would have lobbied to get five votes at the ICC meeting, PCB could have delayed this decision at least.

The Lahore incident has had a bearing on this decision and the persons responsible for coordinating with security agencies have still not been punished. In my opinion the World Cup matches have been moved because of security reasons only and not because of Pakistan`s performance, as suggested by some, otherwise Bangladesh would not be considered for hosting the World Cup.

I believe Wasim Bari is among the people behind this embarrassing situation Pakistan is facing, since he was partly responsible for coordinating the security for the Sri Lankan team who were promised presidential security. I strongly suggest that the board should take the people responsible for this situation to task and the sooner we are rid of such people the better. 

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are all in the same position because of their political situation. Bangladesh had a mutiny situation, which caused Pakistan`s tour to be cancelled. The Tamil Tigers situation in Sri Lanka is also problematic for the political scenario their. India has already suffered since the IPL has been moved to South Africa.

So why single out Pakistan here? I believe that what has made Pakistan suffer is the fact that Sri Lankans were promised presidential security which was not provided. 

The present management of the PCB should take a lesson from the previous chairman, Dr Nasim Ashraf. He maintained excellent relationship with the other cricket boards which helped in bringing the ICC Trophy to Pakistan. The Indian cricket board in particular was close to PCB during Dr Ashraf`s tenure and this gave Pakistan a strong ally in the ICC, which helped in reversing The Oval Test decision too.  

The writer is a former Test cricketer who has also served as chief selector on several occasions.


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