Australia’s best chance to end seven-year drought
AUSTRALIAN skipper Tim Paine vowed his team would do its utmost to win the second Test against Pakistan - starting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday (5pm AEDT) - for a first series win in Asia since 2011.
The trying conditions of the pitches and hot weather have stopped Australia from winning a series since they beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in 2011.
Since then they have lost 4-0 in India (2013), 2-0 in United Arab Emirates to Pakistan (2014), 3-0 in Sri Lanka (2016), 2-1 in India (2017) and drawn 1-1 in Bangladesh last year.
But Paine's side snatched a morale-boosting draw on the final day of the first Test in Dubai - the skipper and tailender Nathan Lyon seeing out the final 12.2 overs after being set a daunting target of 462 runs.
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"We want to win every series we are involved in," Paine said Monday. "We are focusing on what we do and if we can do well for five days then we have a really good chance of winning it.
"We are reasonably confident. After the last few days we got a little bit of relief and a little bit of mileage, so we know if we play our best cricket we have got a chance to win this Test match.
"We are coming into this Test with a bit more momentum and guys know what to expect a bit more in these conditions," Paine said.
The skipper also announced paceman Mitchell Starc will play in Abu Dhabi, hinting Australia are likely to keep the same starting XI.
Paine admitted Pakistan is a "very good team" ahead of the second Test.
"They have some good batters, particularly in these conditions. We know what we are up against and we know they are an excellent team and even better in these conditions."
Pakistan has been forced into making two changes after opener Imam-ul-Haq fractured his finger in Dubai. He will be replaced by Fakhar Zaman for his first Test.
It also left out fast bowler Wahab Riaz - who went wicketless in the first Test - and will pick one from uncapped pacer Mir Hamza or leg-spinner Shadab Khan.
Pakistan's only series loss in United Arab Emirates - its neutral venue since attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 - was last year.
It lost to Sri Lanka 2-0, its first series loss in 10 attempts. But Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed dispelled any fear of losing.
"There is nothing like that (fear) and you would see that with the way we played the first Test. Throughout we played good cricket but unfortunately we couldn't get across the line," Ahmed said.
"The team morale is high, batsmen have scored runs and bowlers have also taken wickets so we are very much hopeful of performing well to win the series."
Australia: Tim Paine (capt), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail,Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Mir Hamza