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.”
National Stadium, Karachi (capacity 34,228)
March 12-16 (10:00 a.m.; 0500 GMT)
Umpires: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan), Aleem Dar (Pakistan)
Third umpire: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
World ranking: 6
Coach: Saqlain Mushtaq
Captain: Babar Azam
Squad: Babar Azam, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood
World ranking: 1
Coach: Andrew McDonald (interim)
Captain: Pat Cummins
Squad: Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
PREVIOUS TEST MEETINGS IN KARACHI
1956 Pakistan won by nine wickets
1959 match drawn
1964 match drawn
1980 Pakistan won by seven wickets
1982 Pakistan won by nine wickets
1988 Pakistan won by an innings and 188 runs
1994 Pakistan won by one wicket
1998 match drawn
First Test (Rawalpindi): Match drawn
Third Test, March 21-25: Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore