Pakistan will hope Shaheen Afridi can bowl himself back into form and his batting team mates can rebuild confidence in a two-day tour match before trying to save the Test series against Australia in Melbourne.
Shan Masood’s team were trounced by 360 runs in the opener in Perth on Sunday, falling to a 15 Test defeat in succession on Australian soil.
While the home side will enjoy an extended break and light preparations before the traditional ‘Boxing Day’ test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Pakistan will strive to build momentum in a practice match against a Victorian XI from Friday.
The hastily-arranged contest was not part of the original schedule, nor will it have first class status, but Pakistan need extra time out in the middle, coach Mohammad Hafeez said.
Down on pace and managing only two wickets in Perth, spearhead Afridi was upstaged by debutant seamers Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal, who had 12 dismissals between them.
On a treacherous pitch, Pakistan’s batsmen finished off a forgettable Test by being skittled for 89 in their second innings.
“Well, we couldn’t execute our skills well,” said coach Mohammad Hafeez.
“We made plans for the team, but unfortunately we couldn’t execute them well. That’s not an excuse.
“The guys wanted to, but they never applied themselves, to be very honest.”
Pakistan will hope the pitch at the Junction Oval will be similar to the one presented at the MCG, having played their first tour match on a tepid deck in Canberra — hardly the best preparation for Perth’s fast and bouncy wicket.
They are expected to face several Australians with Test experience, including Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb, opener Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski.
Pakistan selectors may be grateful to have a specialist spinner available, with none fit for the Perth Test. Left-arm spinner Noman Ali is back in the mix after recovering from a cut finger.
Without bigger contributions from their senior players — Masood and Babar Azam among them — Pakistan may struggle to prevent the losing streak from stretching to 16 in Melbourne, for all of Hafeez’s fighting words.
“I’ve seen during the preparation the amount of talent these guys have,” said the coach.
“There is no doubt they can beat Australia here in Australia.”
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