Pakistan make two changes for second Test with opener Fakhar Zaman in for the injured Imam-ul-Haq and spinner Shadab Khan replacing paceman Wahab Riaz
Tim Paine confident Australia 'good enough to break' Pakistan and win Abu Dhabi Test
Tim Paine said momentum is with Australia heading into the second and deciding Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday and believes they can pull off a famous victory.
Aided by a gutsy rearguard from batsman Usman Khawaja, Australia dug in to eke out a draw in last week's first Test after Pakistan had set an imposing 462 victory at the Dubai International Stadium.
“We are reasonably confident after that performance in the first Test,” Australia captain Paine told reporters at the pre-match news conference at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday.
“We know, clearly 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 got a chance to win this Test match.”
Khawaja batted for eight hours and 44 minutes in Dubai - the second longest by anyone in the fourth innings of a Test, after Michael Atherton’s marathon in Johannesburg in 1995. The opener faced 302 balls for a gritty 141 while Test debutant Travis Head (72) and Paine (61 not out) also aided Australia’s resistance.
“We are very pleased with the batting in the second innings, particularly after what happened in the first inning,” added Paine, referring to a spectacular collapse by the tourists when 10 wickets fell for 60 runs in the Dubai Test.
“Since then, everyone has worked hard and made a lot of improvements in these conditions.
“We are pleased with our top six or seven batsmen who stuck to their game and got some rewards in the second inning in much tougher conditions. That was very pleasing and a confidence booster coming into this second Test.”
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Australia have not won a Test series in Asia since 2011 and none in the UAE since 2002 when they thrashed Pakistan 3-0, although the first of those three Tests was played in Sri Lanka.
“We want to win every series we are involved in,” Paine said. “We are focusing on what we do in the next game, and if we can do well for five days, then we have a really good chance of winning it.
“It will be exciting for our group to come out here with three debutants and win a series. We are happy with the fight we showed in the last Test and we are going to take it to another level this time.”
Paine said he and his teammates had spoken a lot about patience, partnerships and pressure on this tour, with the team under increased scrutiny following the ball-tampering scandal that led to lengthy bans for former captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner.
“We know what we are up against. We know they are an excellent team and even better in these conditions," Paine said.
“We certainly respect how good they are but we think our best cricket is good enough to break them.”
Australia are expected to go with the same XI from the first Test while Pakistan make two changes.
Opener Fakhar Zaman comes in for the injured Imam-ul-Haq, who broke his little finger while fielding in the first Test, with spinner Shadab Khan is set to replace paceman Wahab Riaz.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed said Pakistan took a lot of positives from the first Test, which they dominated until the final session of the last day.
“We were on top of the first Test for four and a-half-days and everything was going fine but unfortunately we couldn’t win the match," Sarfraz said.
“We must give credit to the Australia. They fought really hard, but the way we fought in the first Test, I’m proud of the team.
“The confidence in the team remains high after this performance. Our batsmen scored runs and bowlers took wickets. We are hopeful of performing well again and winning this series.”