KARACHI: Former chief selector Haroon Rashid insisted on Tuesday that Pakistan were capable of beating Australia despite the tourists losing the day-night series opener in Brisbane, provided they learned quickly.
Haroon, also an ex-Test batsman, told Dawn the conditions in Melbourne will offer a big contrast to what Misbah-ul-Haq’s men encountered at the Gabba where Australia held their nerves on Monday to seal a 39-run victory.
“Pakistan’s resurgence was remarkable in the face of a massive  target. Having lost six wickets for 220, it was incredible to see them get a record fourth-innings total . I thought Asad Shafiq was quite phenomenal the way he managed the tail to stand with him,” Haroon commented. “But we must take into consideration the conditions at the Gabba had eased out and the pink ball wasn’t doing much to cause major problems on the last three sessions of the match.
“The difference between pink and red balls will be a big factor which Pakistan should note when they play the next two Tests [in Melbourne and Sydney]. The red one tends to swing naturally and also aids reverse swing bowling. Moreover, the bounce of a red ball is more pronounced than the pink, which becomes softer quickly once the lacquer wears off.”
He urged the Pakistan think-tank to make players understand the playing surface in Melbourne will be easier to adapt.
“The basic reason is that nowadays drop-in pitches are being used in some of the Australian grounds and the MCG is no exception. On such a pitch the behaviour is tennis-ball bounce and it generally plays consistently,” Haroon pointed out. “The problems that afflict teams from the subcontinent are adaptability and adjustably. We Pakistanis are not used to playing on tracks where the ball bounces much more than those they play here. Playing on slow and low pitches of the UAE has definitely made adjustment difficult for our batsmen.
“So it is not surprising Pakistan batsmen, every time they tour Australia, take some time to get used to the adaptability part. It is something that one learns practically and not taught on laptops and computers as modern-day travelling cricketers have to do. But there are exceptions like Sarfraz Ahmed. His unorthodox batting approach means he works quickly to get going. Sarfraz is a great example for others to take notice of.”
Haroon further stated that Pakistan should head into the second Test with a positive frame of mind and should be fearless.
“I think there is no harm in doing out-of-box stuff. Like giving Sharjeel Khan license to attack [Mitchell] Starc and [Josh] Hazlewood from the onset. We need to think positive and play fearless cricket without worrying about the repercussions,” he stressed. “If you look at recent history, Brendon McCullum was one of the fearless cricketers who didn’t mind taking risks to achieve the desired results. It’s not that the gamble he took came off each time but that’s how Pakistan can get rid of the so-called mental block.”
Haroon believed Australia are beatable if Pakistan have the self-belief to win against them. “This team of Australia’s is quite inexperienced and young. Barring [Steve] Smith and [David] Warner and to some extent Usman Khawaja, they have a batting line-up that shouldn’t worry our bowlers provided we are not dropping catches regularly as it happened in Brisbane,” he said.