They might have been destroyed in the T20 series but back in the whites, Pakistan have proven they are here to play against Australia A.
In 90 difficult overs for Australia, Pakistan frustrated the Aussies as Babar Azam proved why he is his nation’s great hope, scoring 157 off 197 balls.
He has been well supported by Asad Shafiq who has hit a more patient 119 off 245 balls as the pair remained undefeated at the end of day one, reaching 3/336 at the end of the day at Perth Stadium.
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It was disappointing for Australia as no real questions were answered as Australia’s first Test team is getting closer to being named.
But after Pakistan never looked like they were going to get out, it raises a potentially disastrous scenario where Australia could be batted out of the match.
ABC columnist Richard Hinds even floated the possibility the proposed bat-off could be “completely ruined”.
While it’s unlikely with Pakistan bringing a youthful attack to Australia, it is a possibility.
As for Australia, a potential bowl-off had some interesting results.
While Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson are likely to be the pace attack with Nathan Lyon as the spinner, there was an opportunity for bowlers to put their best foot forward.
While Riley Meredith took 2/73, he only bowled 12 overs, being hit for more than a run a ball.
Michael Neser was the most economic bowler, taking 1/49 with seven maidens but Australia A went 70 wicketless overs to finish the day as Babar and Asad hit a 276-run partnership.
Pakistan have brought a youthful pace attack to Australia including 16-year-old Naseem Shah and 19-year-old Muhammad Musa.
Musa clocked 147km/h on international debut during Friday’s T20 decider in Perth.
“It’s going to be a good experience for the youngsters who have come in,” veteran Pakistan quick Wahab Riaz said.
“Obviously we know that Australian players are good hookers and pullers of the ball and they play the cut shot really well.
“So bowling within the stumps and pitching the ball a little bit more up is more effective to them.”
Pakistan fans are keen for the bowlers to have a shot as they are the big question for the side.
BAT-OFF: WHERE IT STANDS
According to Courier Mail cricket journalist Robert Craddock, five batsmen are already in line to play in the first Test starting November 21 — Steve Smith, Dave Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Wade and Tim Paine.
It leaves just an opener and middle order batsman to be selected with Marcus Harris, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja seemingly playing off for the spot at the top of the order, while Travis Head and youngster Will Pucovski are set to fight for the middle order spot.
Head, who was dropped for the final Ashes Test despite being the side’s vice-captain.
After hitting a century against the NSW attack featuring Josh Hazlewood in the last round of the Sheffield Shield, Head put his name up in lights but there is a strong push behind Pucovski.
On Channel 9’s Sports Sunday, former Australian skipper Mark Taylor believes Pucovski has his nose in front.
“I think Will Pucovski, Travis Head, that will be the big battle in this game for Australia A v Pakistan,” Taylor said on Sports Sunday.
“I suspect the Australian selectors want to pick Pucovski; 21-year-old Victorian averaging 50 in first-class cricket, has a double-hundred in Shield cricket. This young kid can play and they’d love to give him an opportunity.
“On the other side of that equation is Travis Head, who wants to get back in the side and is a vice-captain of the Australian side. You’ve got a bit of experience against a guy they want, I think, to get in the side.
“If Pucovski does well, it wouldn’t surprise me if he debuts in that first Test.”
Without a chance or with only a limited chance, the selectors may have to go without a final shootout.
It’s the formula coach Justin Langer has admitted he will be taking.
“We won’t just pick it on current form. That’s important to realise,” Langer said.
“Current form is important, what guys have done in the past over their careers is important, what they’ve done in the last six months is important.
“You saw with the way we selected this T20 side … we’re getting really specific about the sort of players we want.
“A lot of it selects itself but there’ll be a couple of spots up for grabs, I reckon. And it’ll be a tough call because there’s a lot of talent in Australia.”
It may bode well for Burns to snatch a spot with The Daily Telegraph revealing the Queenslander is the unluckiest player in almost 100 years.
Dropped for the Ashes despite scoring 180 in his last Test, Burns has hit four hundreds in 16 Tests.
Only Englishman Jack Russell, who played in the 1920s played so few Tests despite scoring as many centuries as Burns. Russell had five centuries in 10 matches.
— with AAP