KARACHI: Beginning a tour of the sub-continent with a draw is a result perfectly acceptable to most visiting captains but Australia skipper Pat Cummins knows the task gets significantly tougher for his team in the second Test against Pakistan on Saturday.
Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in 24 years turned out to be a run-feast in Rawalpindi where 1,187 runs were scored and only 14 wickets fell, earning a “below average” rating from the match referee.
After five dull days of bat dominating ball, things are likely to spice up on a dry track at Karachi’s National Stadium where spin and reverse swing should ensure runs are not taken for granted.
Australia have responded by harnessing debutant Mitchell Swepson with Nathan Lyon in a two-man spin attack, sacrificing the pace of Josh Hazlewood and endorsing Mitchell Starc’s reverse swing skills.
“The wicket here looks a little bit drier. Historically, it’s bit friendlier for the spinners,” Cummins told a news conference on Friday.
“We think particularly a wrist spinner of Swepo’s quality gives us a balance, give us the best opportunity to take 20 wickets.”
Australia’s top four got 50s in Rawalpindi but none could convert them into hundreds.
On a Karachi track that is expected to break up early, Steve Smith and David Warner created rough patches before facing bowlers in the nets to prepare for Pakistan’s full-strength attack.
The hosts have welcomed back quick Hasan Ali and seam-bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who missed the Rawalpindi Test with injuries.
“We have more or less finalised the playing XI,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam told a news conference.
“Two of our main players are back and will be considered (for selection).”
Babar would like to believe his team outplayed Australia in Rawalpindi even if it did not translate into a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.
“Overall, we played and dominated them in Rawalpindi,” Babar said.
“Definitely, we take confidence from that match. We got four hundreds there, we bowled them out and Nauman Ali took six wickets.
“I believe we’d hold an edge heading into the match here.”