MELBOURNE: Pakistan’s young opening batsman Sami Aslam, who had modest returns of 22 and 15 at the Brisbane Test, said his side was ready to better handle Australia’s attack led by the always-threatening Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who adopted an aggressive, short-pitched attack in the day-night opener.
“Due to the last innings rearguard where we scored 450, there is a lot of confidence in the team that we can really perform well in these conditions and all players are determined going into the Melbourne Test,” he said.
Aslam, 21, said he could sense Australia had panicked in the field on that final day in Brisbane as the tourists closed in on what would have been a record-breaking win. “They [Australia] were really confident that they would win easily. But everyone panicked when we [got] so close to that figure of 490 which was a very big total,” he said.
The tourists will also have the confidence from knowing the
y were, albeit briefly, ranked the No.1 Test nation this year.
In a bid to adjust to the extra bounce and pace they do not encounter in Asian conditions, the tourists are lugging around two slabs of granite to use in the practice nets. Balls are then aimed at the slab, with batsmen better able to practise their back-foot strokes and attacking cross-bat shots.
“Some players do practise on the slab in Pakistan as well, but I don’t practise on the slab. It’s up to the players. Slab is important for the bouncy deliveries – so many players have it in their mind the slab will help on the bouncy pitches,” Sami said.
The robust left-hander from Lahore, a former under-19 Pakistan captain, has yet to notch a ton in 10 Tests, having twice fallen in the 90s. He is under growing pressure to reach three figures. “I have many hundreds in first-class cricket and international under-19 cricket as well. I don’t think there is a problem … when I get into the 90s. One or two times I was unlucky and one or two times I played a bad shot. I am really confident I will score big next time,” he said.
Aussie skipper Steve Smith’s 130 in Brisbane, along with a maiden Test century from Victorian Peter Handscomb, bankrolled Australia’s imposing first innings of 429 and Sami said the visitors are aware of that. “Smith has a very good record but we don’t have focus on any one player, we are working on their whole team. But, yes, two or three players are very good. We do have a plan to get Smith early as he is in very good form,” admitted Sami.
Whatever that plan is was not revealed by Sami obviously, but with two centuries and two half-centuries in his past five international innings, the tourists know they will need to probe deeply if they are to find a blemish in Smith’s technique.