Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq is hopeful that his players can draw on the lessons from their previous tour of Australia, in 2016-17, as they begin their ICC World Test Championship campaign with first of the two Tests, starting on 21 November in Brisbane.
Pakistan's last Test win in Australia came during their 1995-96 tour, when they won the final Test in Sydney after having already lost the series with successive defeats in the previous two games. Since then, they've toured Australia four times, but have been whitewashed 3-0 on each of those occasions. Their most recent tour, in 2016-17, saw some significant contributions from the batsmen, but it was the bowling that hurt their chances, as they conceded 429, 624/9 and 538/8 in Australia's first innings of the respective Tests to hand the hosts early advantage.
"For Asian teams in Australia, it's always difficult, but overall the best thing for us is that our batting line-up is experienced," Misbah told reporters in Perth, where Pakistan are currently playing a three-day practice game against Australia A. "Our boys who have toured previously scored runs here. Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood had a good time in the bouncy tracks in South Africa [in 2018-19], so looking forward, we have a good, mature team.
"It's important for us to take 20 wickets because you can't win without it. I feel our batting line-up is capable enough to put up 400-450 runs on the board, so it also helps our bowlers along the way."
When you have such an ambitious team, you expect good results. The fast bowlers are energetic and all the players are expected to play well in the conditions.
Pakistan's bowlers seem to have responded well to their coach's call in the early days of the tour, as they skittled out Australia A for 122 in the first innings at the Perth stadium, after Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam had scored centuries earlier. Imran Khan, one of the new entrants in the squad, bagged a five-for, while Iftikhar Ahmed and teen sensation Shaheen Afridi snared two wickets each. Misbah also marked out Yasir Shah, the leg spinner, as a key weapon ahead of the series.
"Our young fast bowlers and spinner Yasir Shah are our biggest positives," said the former captain. "We have got good, young fast bowlers, and Yasir was there with us last time [we toured here]. He [Yasir] is aware of Australian conditions and he also had better preparation, playing domestic cricket at home. He bowled lengthy spells there and he exactly knows what was missing during his previous tour here. So I am hoping that our preparations are better than before.
"When you have such an ambitious team, you expect good results. The fast bowlers are energetic and all the players are expected to play well in the conditions."
Pakistan had made quite a few changes to their set-up ahead of the season, including those in the leadership roles, but went down 0-2 in the T20I series last week. Misbah said that the main focus still lies in winning games, and put the previous results down to the team-building process.
"Overall, when you try out different options and search for solutions, you have go through all of that," Misbah said. "Obviously, when you are settled, you get the results, but if you want to improve a few things, you should also think about the future for back-ups. If you need to try new players, you need to look past that [the loss].
"Obviously, we were looking to win those games, but we were looking far ahead by giving few players the experience they need. There are a lot of positives for us, and this is definitely going to help Pakistan in future."
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