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Asad optimistic ahead of Australia tour opener

CAIRNS: Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq said on Wednesday the local knowledge of coach Mickey Arthur is proving invaluable as the tourists prepare for a trial by pace in the upcoming three-Test series against Australia.

The Pakistanis are in Cairns for a three-day pink-ball match against a Cricket Australia XI beginning from Thursday at the Cazaly’s Stadium, with the first Test starting a week later in Brisbane, on Dec 15.

Arthur, who coached Australia through an overly disappointing period between November 2011 and June 2013, has been readying his charges for conditions vastly different from those to which they’re accustomed in their current ‘home’ base, the United Arab Emirates.

“Test cricket is always difficult cricket. The challenges over here are different and the challenges in the UAE are different, so we are looking forward to playing good, positive cricket,” Asad said. “You have to tackle the fast bowlers here, which is a totally different challenge [to the UAE].

“[Arthur is] giving us all advice because he knows the conditions, he knows everything about here, so he’s helping us out a lot.”

Asad, a 50-Test veteran who is yet to play any form of international cricket in Australia, said he was working with Arthur on particular points as he looks to adapt to the bouncier, faster wickets.

“About batting, he discusses two or three points with me,” Asad said. “You have to stick on your cut shot here, because you will get good bounce to cut the ball here, so I am focusing on that.

“We all are very determined, because we didn’t have a very good series in New Zealand, we have to play hard and we have to bounce back.

“It’s my first time in Australia and we are really excited, and we’re really hopeful to get a good result.”misbah

The significance of the practice match has not been lost on the tourists, with the clash against the young CA side their only opportunity to familiarise with the manner in which the pink ball might play next week at the Gabba.

Pakistan played a pink-ball Test against West Indies in Dubai in October, and Asad — who made 67 in the first innings — said there was no notable swing from the pink ball, though he’ll be expecting a different story in Australia.

“That was a very good experience, my first experience [with the pink ball],” he said. “Once I played with it, things got a bit better and clearer — there was not a problem with the visibility of the ball or something like this.

“The ball wasn’t swinging in the UAE when we played a Test there, but we’re now expecting some good swing bowling here.

“So we’re preparing ourselves for that swing bowling.”

Meanwhile, Former Test batsman Brad Hodge will again take the reins of the Cricket Australia XI after he was named coach of the side to face Pakistan in a three-day tour match.

Hodge, who coached the CA XI during October’s Matador Cup, will coach the side for the tour match, with National Cricket Centre head coach Troy Cooley to be his assistant coach.

Batsman Will Bosisto will captain the young side, which features seven players with full state contracts and four state-listed rookies.

“This is a really exciting challenge for these players to test themselves against a world-class opponent in Pakistan,” Cooley said. “Every member of this squad has played first-class, List A or Futures League cricket in the past 12 months, and we are confident that this opportunity will benefit these players as they look to press their claims for state selection, and hopefully in years to come, national honours.

“Already this season, we have seen some extremely positive signs as a result of players getting the opportunity to test themselves at a higher level of cricket through the CA XI, with Arjun Nair among the top 10 wicket-takers in the Matador Cup and Ryan Gibson among the top 10 run-scorers.

Four players — Bosisto, all-rounder Nair, Mark Steketee and Cameron Valente — have already played in the Sheffield Shield cricket while 10 members of the squad played in this season’s Matador Cup.

Teams (from):

CRICKET AUSTRALIA XI: William Bosisto (captain), Jake Carder, Alex Gregory, Josh Inglis, Ryan Lees, Arjun Nair, Jimmy Peirson, Matthew Short, Mark Steketee, Cameron Valente, Cameron Wheatley, Jake Winter.

PAKISTAN: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Rahat Ali, Sharjeel Khan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan.


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