DUBAI //Having spent the majority of their tour of the UAE trying to come up with a plan to counter their opposition's spinners, Australia face another conundrum if they are to save the Twenty20 series tonight: Pakistan's resurgent pace bowlers.
Despite the preoccupation with Saeed Ajmal, the in-form off-spinner, it was the pace duo of Sohail Tanvir and Umar Gul who made the biggest dent in Australia's batting line-up in the opening match on Wednesday night.
The Australians need a vast improvement at Dubai Sports City tonight if they are going to level the three-match series, and raise morale ahead of the bigger tests to follow during this month's World Twenty20.
But Shane Watson, the Australian opener who was a former T20 teammate of Tanvir's with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, says it will not be easy.
"Their bowling unit in general was difficult to handle," Watson said. "Umar Gul bowled beautifully at the start as well as Sohail Tanvir.
"Umar's pace was up there [in the first match] and he showed he is a highly skilled bowler, as his record shows in all cricket.
"He is going to be a huge player for their World Cup campaign over the next month, you cannot take away from anything he does."
The nominal away side could look to find space in their line-up for Brad Hogg, the 41 year old Chinaman bowler who joined the squad after playing for Wayamba in the Sri Lankan Premier League.
The wicket took appreciable turn in the opening match and, with an enviable battery of slow bowlers to call on, Pakistan's captain Mohammed Hafeez is feeling confident.
"The bowlers did the job for Pakistan and made it easy for the batsmen to chase," Hafeez said of the opening night win. "This will really boost the confidence of our team."
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