Hafeez, Imam set Pakistan up for a solid score in first Test against Australia
07 Oct 2018, 17:11
Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat in the first innings of a two-match Test against Australia in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
Pakistan are off to a solid start with Mohammad Hafeez and Imamul Haq firmly planted at the crease as the teams break for tea. The side is at 200/0 off 62 overs.
Hafeez, whose return to the Pakistan roster was met with a mixed response, has made sure that the selectors do not regret their decision by hitting a solid ton in the first few hours of the game.
In the span of six years, Australia have lost 12 of their 15 Tests — recording only two wins with one draw — on tours of India (twice), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.
They lost 2-0 to Pakistan in the UAE in 2014, with Yasir Shah taking 12 wickets and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who is no longer in the international set-up, claiming 14.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed earlier made clear he will attack Australia through Yasir.
‘When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket,’ Sarfraz had said. ‘Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series.
‘But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him.’
Pakistan will also have 33-year-old off-spinner Bilal Asif, who played three One-day Internationals in 2015 but has yet to play a Test.
Recalled all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez could too prove dangerous for Australian left-handers.
Pakistan are in the midst of their own rebuild in the wake of retirements to former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, but having trounced a stronger Australia 2-0 in the last UAE series in 2014, they will fancy themselves to win this one.
Little may be expected of Paine’s Australia in a series that will play out when home fans are sleeping, but the 33-year-old skipper is mindful that results, as well as culture, are key to restoring good will.
‘We are certainly making some changes and it’s something we are really serious about but we are also aware that we need to be playing a high level of cricket and winning games,’ he said.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Abbas
Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine (capt & wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Jon Holland, Nathan Lyon.