Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s head coach and chief selector, was the captain of the national side that last toured Australia in 2016, when they were whitewashed 3-0. A number of players in the current squad, including Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Shan Masood were also a part of that tour. With the experience and learnings from that series, Misbah feels this ‘ambitious team” can go on to get “good results” this time around.
“For Asian teams in Australia, it’s always difficult but overall the best thing for us is that our batting line-up is experienced,” Misbah said in Perth. “Our boys who have toured previously scored runs here. Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood had a good time in the bouncy tracks in South Africa [tour in 2018-19] so looking forward, we have a good mature team. We have got good, young fast bowlers and Yasir Shah was there with us last time [we toured here]. When [you] have such an ambitious team, you expect good results. The fast bowlers are energetic and all the players are expected to play well in the conditions.”
In 2016, Pakistan were never able to get all 20 Australian wickets in the three Tests but Misbah believes the current fast bowling unit is capable of doing that. “Our young fast bowlers and spinner Yasir Shah are our biggest positives. He [Yasir] is aware of Australian conditions and he also had better preparation playing domestic cricket at home. He bowled lengthy spells there and he exactly knows what was missing during his previous tour here. So, I am hoping that our preparation are better than before.
“It’s important for us to take 20 wickets because you can’t win without it. I feel our batting line-up is capable enough to put up 400-450 runs on the board, so it also help our bowlers along the way.”
Pakistan have made a number of changes in their bowling department, with the experienced Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz having quit the longer format to focus on white-ball cricket. Apart from Shah, their ace legspinner, the squad is mainly centred around young fast bowlers. Sixteen-year old Naseem Shah, 18-year-old Muhammad Musa have earned their maiden call-ups, while Imran Khan, who last played during Pakistan’s last tour in Australia, has been recalled.
But with Pakistan having lost 2-0 in the T20I series, will the inexperience dent their confidence further? “Overall, when you try out different solutions and search for you have go through,” Misbah said.
“Obviously,” he added, “when you are settled, you get the results but if you want to improve a few things, you should also think about the future for back-ups. If you need to try new players, you need to look past that [the loss]. Obviously, we were looking to win those games but we were looking far ahead by giving few players the experience they need. There are a lot of positives for us, and this is definitely going to help Pakistan in future.”