SYDNEY (Reuters) – Pakistan will look to tweak their line-up for the second and final test against Australia at Adelaide Oval but wholesale changes look unlikely despite Sunday’s innings defeat in the series opener in Brisbane.
Captain Azhar Ali defended both his non-performing batsmen and inexperienced bowlers after the heavy loss at the Gabba, although he did concede that seasoned seamer Mohammad Abbas might return to the side for the pink-ball test.
Ali blamed the defeat on falling behind on the opening day after batting without loss through the first session only to crumble to 240 all out by the close of play.
The batting in the second innings was better with a fine century from Babar Azam and 95 from wicketkeeper Muhammad Rizwan but by that stage Australia were already firmly in the driving seat after scoring 580 in their only knock.
“We will sit and do a recap of this game and discuss everything and try to figure out the best playing XI for Adelaide,” he said
“It’s not fair to raise too many questions over our batsmen this early on. At times, a player can have a tough test but that doesn’t make him a bad player. I have full faith on all the batsmen that they can score runs here.”
Haris Sohail looks to be the batsman most likely to be dropped after falling cheaply in almost identical fashion in both innings, hanging his bat out at Mitchell Starc deliveries to be caught behind.
Pakistan selected a bowling attack for the future at the Gabba featuring 16-year-old debutant Naseem Shah and 19-year-old Shaheen Afridi. Ali suggested they would stick with them for the Adelaide test.
“The young attack has a lot of potential but you can’t buy experience,” he said. “It’s never easy in a place like Australia. They started off little shaky but they came back strongly the next day even though the Australian batsmen were really set.
“They came back strong and kept bowling in good areas after that. I believe if they manage to do that from the start of the innings, they’ll be a totally different attack after that.”
Abbas, left out for 32-year-old Imran Khan, has taken 66 wickets at an average of 18.86 in 14 tests and Ali said that the 29-year-old was “always there for us”.
His ability to swing the ball would be useful in the night sessions in Adelaide but bowling coach Waqar Younis said at the weekend Abbas was still trying to find his rhythm after being managed back from an injury he sustained last year.
“We’re not losing hope in him,” said the fast bowling great. “He’s our main man and we’re going to have a really close look and hopefully once we get into Adelaide we’ll think about it.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)