ISLAMABAD, Mar 03 (Alliance News):Pakistani Skipper Babar Azam believes the absence of Hassan Ali and Faheem Ashraf might have disturbed the team’s combination a bit, but hoped that the top order was in good form to give tough time to Australia.
“The absence of Hassan and Faheem has disturbed our combination a bit as Faheem contributed both in batting and bowling while Hassan is one of the best bowlers who have made us win matches.
But our focus is to play the best combination and our top batters Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan are in form, so I’m hopeful that we will play good cricket and give tough time to Australia. No doubt Australia is a top team and we cannot take them easy, but we have planned and you will see good cricket,” he said in a pre-match presser on Thursday.
He said players prepared well in the training camp at Karachi.
“We have not prepared the final 11 yet, we will see the pitch on Friday and decide. Definitely fast bowlers get help on Rawalpindi wicket but spinners do have an important role to play there.”
The prolific batter said we would try to continue the Bangladesh series win momentum. “The matches will be tough matches but we will utilize the home conditions. Though our main players have suffered setbacks but it goes on. We keep that aside and focus on cricket.”
He said we would rely on our Playing 11 and he was confident to give his best. “We will see the next week’s weather and will go in the morning and decide the final 11.”
On playing spinner Yasir Shah, he said there was his injury issue, but he was called in the camp and he is in the reserves. “He hasn’t played cricket from the past one or two months but work on his fitness is underway, as he’s one of the best bowlers who has won many matches for Pakistan. We will utilize him wherever we’ll need him after he gets 100 percent fit.”
Azam said as a captain his focus was to take work from the team and make Pakistan win through performance.
Meanwhile, Australian Skipper Patrick Cummins said we don’t have the Playing 11 yet but we want to have another look at the wickets in the morning, so we’ll probably go with two spinners or the three quicks.”
“We had a good look at the wicket the last few days and it looks like a good wicket. Probably as expected not a heap of grass on it. We’ll see how it plays out.”
About the three frontline players missing from Pakistan squad Hassan Ali, Faheem Ashraf and Haris Rauf, Cummins said in international cricket you’ve got to have a squad of players. “I’m sure that will be a big loss but it gives others opportunities. You saw that throughout the summer in Australia someone like Josh Hazlewood was missed and we’re able to have Scott Boland come in debut and he performed fantastically.”
To a question on Rawalpindi wicket good for pacers, he said he hopes seeing the stats it seemed to favor fast bowlers. “It looks a good wicket, so I don’t think it’s going to be seaming or swinging all over the place, but I think after bowling on the practice wickets next to the wicket. They’re nice to bowl, so hopefully it’s much the same in the middle.”
Speaking about bounce on the wicket, Cummins said he doubts there would be as much bounce or as quick as in Australia. “It seems okay but I don’t think it’ll be a super quick wicket.
To a question, he said Mitchell has been bowling fantastically while Ashton Agar hasn’t played a lot of red ball cricket but he has been fantastic whenever he’s played for Australia.
“For our batting group we’ve to be prepared to bat and bat and yes there are certain stages where you feel like it’s going to speed up be brave enough to take on those opportunities. I think all the basics of test cricket is the same.”
Regarding moisture on the wicket after rain, he said he doesn’t think it would be too much of a factor as all would be covered.
Cummins said the whole previous generation of Australian teams didn’t get to experience Pakistan, so we feel really lucky and fortunate that we were the first team to be back here playing.
“I think at the end of our career we’ll look back on and think that was really special. I mean the way we’ve been looked after with the security, we have never experience anything like. We are proud and happy to be experiencing the test cricket over here in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, both teams training and practice session to be held at the Pindi Stadium, Rawalpindi on Thursday were cancelled due to the rain.