Its Big Thing To See
Australia’s selectors face a dilemma for the second Test against Pakistan as they weigh up whether to rest pace spearhead Mitchell Starc.
The decision on whether to play Starc in Abu Dhabi looms as the only major selection headache for the series-decider starting on Tuesday.
Australia will train on Sunday with Starc and Peter Siddle set to be put through their paces along with back-up quicks Michael Neser and Brendan Doggett.
Starc bowled without luck on a flat deck in Dubai, grinding in hot conditions to take 1-90 in 36.2 first innings overs, and bowling just six overs in the second for figures of 0-18.
The left-armer was unable to replicate the amount of reverse swing generated by Pakistan paceman Mohammad Abbas who claimed seven wickets for the match.
Australia’s determination to win a Test series in Asia for the first time since 2011 could swing selectors towards backing in Starc.
But they will also be wary of preserving the gun quick, who has been named in the squad for three T20s against Pakistan later this month before Tests against India and Sri Lanka in the home summer and next year’s World Cup and Ashes tour.
“It’s a good question. It’s always managing those quicks,” coach Justin Langer said.
“Starcy bowled a lot of overs first innings, we certainly understand that and it’s always the million-dollar question: what do we do with the fast bowlers?
“Because if we’ve got our fast bowlers, particularly in Australia or going forward to England next year … the top three is incredibly important to Australia being successful.
“We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully we’ll manage them well throughout the summer and this tour so far.”
Australia’s stunning day five fightback to secure a draw in Dubai has increased the likelihood that the same XI will be retained in Abu Dhabi.
Marnus Labuschagne failed with the bat in his maiden Test but is almost certain to get another chance after taking wickets with his part-time leg-spin and impressing in the field.
Fellow debutants Aaron Finch and Travis Head both made crucial knocks to ensure they will keep their spots.
Jon Holland also delivered an improved performance in the second innings and is likely to again edge out fellow left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez
Oct 7-11: First Test, drawn
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi
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