Upbeat Aussies aim to bounce out Pakistan
December 14 2016 10:32 PM
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Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and his Australian counterpart Steven Smith hold the Test series trophy at the Gabba in Brisbane yesterday, ahead of today’s pink ball day-night Test. (AFP)

AFP Brisbane

‘I think traditionally sub-continent sides struggle to handle the pace and bounce in Australian conditions. So you need to try and find ways to exploit that as much as possible and at times I’m sure we’re going to see some short-pitched bowling to mess with their feet to find ways to get them out’

Skipper Steve Smith says Australia’s pace attack will test the resolve of Pakistan batsmen with short-pitched bowling in Brisbane’s first ever day-night Test, starting today.
 Smith has yet to finalise his team and hasn’t ruled out playing with four pacemen at the expense of spinner Nathan Lyon, but he is promising the tourists a work-out on the bouncy Gabba pitch.
 With in-form quicks Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood armed with the new ball, Smith said team strategists had watched Pakistan’s recent series in New Zealand where the tourists slumped to two hefty defeats.
 “I think traditionally sub-continent sides struggle to handle the pace and bounce in Australian conditions,” Smith said yesterday, ahead of the three-Test series. “So you need to try and find ways to exploit that as much as possible and at times I’m sure we’re going to see some short-pitched bowling to mess with their feet to find ways to get them out. New Zealand obviously did a good job, so hopefully our bowlers can replicate that.”
 Smith was far more upbeat about Australia’s chances after stopping the rot of five straight Test defeats with a revamped team in Adelaide late last month.
 “It’s been a nice turnaround. We’ve won four games on the trot (including three ODIs against New Zealand) as an Australian team now and hopefully we can keep that winning momentum going,” he said.
 Pakistan also have fast bowling ammunition to return fire at the Gabba, led by Mohamed Amir and Wahab Riaz. Smith pinpointed Amir as a potential “handful”.
 “He’s a quality bowler. He’s got some great skills. He bowls with really good pace and can swing the ball,” he said. “It’s great to have those sort of gears and those skills so no doubt he could potentially be a handful if it’s swinging around.”
 But Smith also warned Pakistan’s leg-spinner Yasir Shah to make sure his length was on the mark or the Australian batsmen would take to him.
 Yasir has captured 116 wickets in just 20 Tests since his debut against Australia in Dubai two years ago.
 “I guess the extra bounce can play in your favour as a spin bowler at the Gabba, but it can also play against you,” Smith said.
 “Your length has to be spot on, generally there isn’t too much turn — it’s more bounce, so length is crucial. And if you’re slightly off your length, you can really cash in down the wicket and square of the wicket as well.”
 Smith added that rookie opener Matt Renshaw, who made his Test debut against South Africa in Adelaide this month, was adapting to his new environment.
 “He’s coming out of his shell in the last couple of days. I was impressed with the way he played last week and been impressed with the way that he trains. He’s got beautiful hands in the slips cordon, the practice that we’ve done and the way that the ball goes into his hands is beautiful.
 “I’ve been really impressed with that and hopefully he can have a really nice week at his home ground,” the Aussie skipper said.
 Smith also expects fast bowler Jackson Bird, recalled for the last
Test against South Africa, to hold his place in the 11, meaning debutant paceman Chadd Sayers could edge out spinner Lyon.
 “We want to have another look at the wicket today... to determine how much grass is on the wicket and things like that,” Smith said.
 “Jackson will probably play, he played the last game and played pretty well so I dare say he will play.”
 The Gabba wicket, which traditionally offers pace and bounce, had a layer of grass on the eve of the venue’s first day-night Test. Cloudy conditions are also forecast at the end of the week which could make the pink ball swing as both sides hope to eke out an early advantage in the three-Test series.
 Gabba curator Kevin Mitchell suggested the match might not last the full five days if the weather was humid.
 “It’s not beyond the realms of possibility,” he told reporters.
 “I think probably bat first, given the conditions,” Mitchell added.
 Lyon took four wickets to help a re-jigged Australia side beat the Proteas in the day-night match in Adelaide, a return to form for the off-spinner after he struggled in defeats at Perth and Hobart as South Africa claimed a 2-1 series win.
 Pakistan’s batsmen took Lyon apart in a 2-0 series loss for Australia in the United Arab Emirates two years ago but the spinner has an excellent record in Brisbane and has not missed a Test there since his debut in 2011.
 “So I’ll leave you guys to write that, that there’s going to be four quicks and stuff,” Lyon said earlier in the week. “I’m confident of playing, I’ll put it that way.”
 Australia have not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988 when they were beaten by Viv Richards’ West Indies.



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