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Pakistan look towards young pace battery to breach Australia's Brisbane fortress
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Pakistan look towards young pace battery to breach Australia's Brisbane fortress

Pakistan's losing streak in Australia stretches to 12 consecutive Tests and spans a period of more than two decades.

They now begin their World Test Championship campaign following a lopsided contest in the T20I series that reestablished Australia's dominance early in their home season.

Pakistan's shoddy track record in Australia and the latter's unbeaten run at the Gabba since 1988 may cause one to predict a doddle for the home side but the tourists' coruscating pace attack has breathed new life among Azhar Ali's men.

Buoyed by splendid bowling performances in the practice matches, Pakistan are now daring to dream of clinching their first-ever series triumph down under.

Much of Pakistan's bowling charge has been spearheaded by their pacers with 'comeback man' Imran Khan impressing the most with a devastating spell that triggered a collapse of the Australia A lineup.

Imran's nibbling seam movement and Mohammad Abbas' noted credentials are supported by the presence of an exciting trio of teenage quicks awaiting the opportunity to unleash their magic.

16-year-old Naseem Shah is set to become the youngest player to make his debut on Australian soil and all the attention is fixated on him following his brief yet electrifying spell in the tour game.

Equipped with a bustling pace bowling combination, Pakistan seems to be spoilt for options as they figure out which bowlers to pick for the Test encounter on a pitch traditionally looked upon as a paceman's paradise.

The visitors' batting stocks are not a liability either with veteran Asad Shafiq fresh from a pair of centuries across two warm-up matches.

Meanwhile, Babar Azam appears to be in the form of his life as he hopes to seamlessly transition into Test cricket - the one format of the game where his batting heroics have been a rarity.

As Pakistan steady under the leadership of new skipper Azhar, Australia aim to build on the momentum from the Ashes-retaining win in England earlier in the summer.

Despite the unexpected removal of James Pattinson from the squad due to an obscene outburst, Australia boast intimidating pace bowlers in Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood who would be eying to dent Pakistan's batting.

There has been concern regarding an overreliance on Steve Smith in the batting department and the struggling middle-order will be keen to debunk this worrying trend.

David Warner longs for Test ascendancy

While Smith has been merrily scoring heaps of runs (774 in seven innings in the Ashes), his batting partner David Warner, who also returned from a year-long exile from international cricket, has been having a nightmare run in the longer format.

Warner managed a paltry sum of 95 runs across 10 innings during the Ashes with Stuart Broad breaching his defences on seven occasions.

He has still held onto his opening slot and would be eager to come back to his belligerent best which was evident in Australia's thumping T20I wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Azhar vies for fluency with the bat

The 34-year-old was abruptly handed the captaincy baton after the axing of Sarfaraz Ahmed but that is not the only facet of Azhar's game which will be under the scanner.

Azhar himself has been undergoing a lean patch in the only format he dons the national jersey and managed just 59 runs at 9.83 in Pakistan's previous Test assignment.

He was found wanting in the practice matches where he failed to make a substantial score and was typically trapped leg before wicket.

Squads

Australia: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner

Pakistan: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan senior, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashid Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah

 

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