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Pakistan spinners could play lead role in Australia: Sarfraz

ISLAMABAD: Noting that Pakistan’s fast bowling department is no more strong, former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz on Wednesday predicted that the country’s spinners could play a significant role against Australia in the forthcoming Twenty20 and Test series Down Under.

Pakistan play Aussies in a three-match T20 International series starting on Nov 3 at Sydney. The two Tests will be staged in Brisbane (Nov 21-25) and Adelaide (Nov 29-Dec 3).

Speaking to Dawn over telephone from the UK where he is settled, the 70-year-old Sarfraz said the Pakistan spinners had the potential to surprise the Australian batsmen.

“If the Pakistani spinners get dry and supporting pitches they can create problems for the opponents,” reckoned Sarfraz. However, the legendary fast bowler added, if Australia prefer green pitches then there will be serious problems for the Pakistan batsmen.

Mohammad Abbas (14 Tests), Imran Khan (nine Tests) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (three Tests) along with uncapped young fast bowlers Nasim Shah (16 years) and Mohammad Musa (19) are part of the Pakistan squad for the Australia Tests.

Sarfraz, who played 55 Tests and 45 ODIs from 1969 to 1984, noted that Pakistan’s fast bowling department largely comprised new bowlers who lack Test match experience

“It will be difficult for the Pakistan pacers to do long spells of bowling with consistent line and length and speed in Test matches,” he said. “We lack [an] experienced fast bowler who can take match-winning five- or six-wicket haul in Australia. [Therefore], I think we will have to rely on spinners.”

Commenting on the country’s spin bowling department, the Lahore-born Sarfraz feels leg-spinners Shadab Khan and Usman Qadir along with slow left-arm spinner Imad Wasim will play lead role for the tourists in the Australia T20 matches.

Hailing the inclusion of 26-year-old Usman in the national squad, Sarfraz said, “He has good experience of playing cricket in Australia and good command of bowling flipper and googly.”

Sarfraz insisted that Pakistan would definitely need their experienced left-arm pacers Wahab Riaz (in break from Tests) and Mohammad Amir (retired from the longest format), to deliver good performance in Australia.

Giving his views on Pakistan’s Test series in Australia, Sarfraz said experienced Yasir Shah could be well assisted by uncapped slow left-armer Kashif Bhatti.

“Yasir should be Pakistan’s main weapon in the Test matches,” he reckoned.

Talking about the fast bowlers, Sarfraz predicted it would be tough for Pakistan’s inexperienced battery of fast bowlers to produce good results on a demanding tour of Australia.

“My best wishes are with them [fast bowlers]. Having said this, I would again say that our spinners could play the leading role,” he maintained.

When asked about the green-shirts’ chances of victory Down Under, he said there should not be big expectations from the new-look team.

“Since our team is new, we should not expect big victories from them in Australia. This team will take some time to settle. At the same time, I must say on their day, Pakistan players could surprise any opponents,” he emphasised.

The morale of the Australian team who drew the five-Test series 2-2 in England earlier this year to retain the Ashes must be very high, the ex-star bowler underlined.

“Australia have a strong side, it would be a difficult series for Pakistan,” he said.

To a query about Pakistan’s dismal performance in the recently-concluded home T20 series against an inexperienced Sri Lanka, Sarfraz said head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq should be given a free hand for at least three series.

“Misbah is focusing on developing a new-look team, which is a good sign for Pakistan’s future,” Sarfraz said.

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