x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Australia find alternative ways to keep their cool

Slushies and cold towels have been among the devices used by Australia to help their players deal with the UAE summer heat.

Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson tries off with a cold towel during the ODI in Abu Dhabi.
Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson tries off with a cold towel during the ODI in Abu Dhabi.

DUBAI // When Australia's cricketers were told they would have to play a series against Pakistan amid the severe heat and humidity of late summer in the UAE they might have been forgiven for having a moan.

But it has not been all bad. There have been some perks.

"The key is keeping your core body temperature down," David Hussey, the Australia batsman, said yesterday."Our strength and conditioning coach Stuart Karppinen has been fantastic. He has been giving us cold slushies, which takes us back to our childhoods."

It is not just the mocktail waiters, medics and physiologists who have been on high alert over the course of the first two night matches of a three-game series which reaches its finale in Sharjah tonight.

The logistics of playing games which stretch late into the night here at this time of year have tested everyone - even the window cleaners.

With 90 per cent humidity and heavy dew in the second match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, which Pakistan won to level the series, maintenance staff had to squeegee the windows of the corporate and media boxes so the people inside, in the AC, could see out.

The 12th men, meanwhile, have been so actively employed delivering new gloves, cold towels and slushies to the players every couple of overs that they must have needed ice baths of their own.

And from a more prosaic point of view, the video analysts have been busy, too.

Australia have been trying to crack the code of Pakistan's slow bowling attack, chiefly the off-spin duo Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Hafeez.

There is no easy answer. Ajmal has taken more international wickets than anyone else in the world this year, while Hafeez, whose off-spin is generally considered to be the lesser suit to his batting, is officially the world's best one-day international bowler.

In Abu Dhabi, for example, the normally pyrotechnic opener David Warner was becalmed to the extent he made just 24 from 68 balls before he fell to Ajmal.

The Australians, who may recall their left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty tonight, have pored over the videos and have hit on a plan for the decider at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium: have a go.

"He is a fantastic bowler and all the Aussie boys have the utmost respect for him," Hussey said of Ajmal.

"I think we have to change our game plan. We have been defending him a little bit, to our peril.

"Maybe the best form of defence is to attack him. We have seen how the Sri Lankan and Indians play him, and I think that might be the better route to go.

"We are very diligent when it comes to planning and Hafeez certainly doesn't slip under the radar. He picks up wickets at key times for Pakistan, and we have to nullify his existence as well."

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