Rain is forecast for Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in 24 years. Which begins on Friday, but even storm clouds couldn’t dampen the spirits of rival captains Pat Cummins and Babar Azam on the eve of the match.
Both teams were force to cancel practice sessions on Thursday due to rain. But the forecast is clear for Friday and most of Saturday, with showers expected on the final three days of competition.
Regardless of the weather, Cummins and Azam were ready for the historic Test. Which would be play in front of a sell-out 16,000-strong crowd in Rawalpindi. Pakistan’s garrison city just south of Islamabad.
Because international teams haven’t visited Pakistan since 1998 due to security concerns, Australia is unfamiliar with the local pitches.
On the eve of the match, Cummins told reporters, “It looks like a good wicket… as expected.”
He predicted that Australia would field three quick bowlers or two spinners in the Test.
Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, is upbeat about the historic Pakistan test
“All we want to do is take another look at the wicket,” he explained.
The Australian captain refused to accept that Pakistan would field a depleted side due to injuries to star fast bowler Hasan Ali and all-rounder Faheem Ashra.
“It’s a setback for Pakistan, but there’s always someone else who can step up,” he said.
However, he downplayed their status as “favorites” following their 4-0 thrashing of England in the Ashes series, which ended in January.
“To be honest,” he admitted, “it doesn’t really mean much.”
“We’re fortunate to have a strong squad coming off some excellent performances, but it’s unfamiliar territory, so we’ll see.”
Pakistan captain Azam, on the other hand, said the pair would be miss. Especially Hasan, who took ten wickets in Pakistan’s win over South Africa in Rawalpindi last year.
“Hasan is a match-winner, and Ashraf contributes both batting and bowling. So that has thrown our combination off,” Azam explain, adding that Naseem Shah, a teenage fast bowler, is expect to join his team.
Two years ago, Naseem scored a hat-trick against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi Stadium.
“We still have Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shah, both of whom are bowling well. And Fawad Alam and Rizwan, both of whom are batting well,” Azam said.
Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, two spinners, are likely to be include in the hosts’ lineup, with all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed providing support.
The Australians are strong and experienced, but Azam believes the home team will put up a good fight.
“We won’t take them lightly,” he said, “but we’ve prepared for them, and you’ll see some excellent cricket.”
The second Test begins on March 12 in Karachi, and the third match begins on March 21 in Lahore.