Islamabad :Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has warned that his ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah will attack a depleted and new-look Australia when they meet in the first of two Test matches starting in Dubai from Sunday.
Australia face a trial by spin as has so often been the case on their tours to Asia.
In the space of six years, they have lost 12 of their 15 Tests with only two wins and one draw on tours of India (twice), one each to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
They lost 2-0 to Pakistan in UAE in 2014, with Yasir taking 12 and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar 14 wickets. But Yasir will now be the lone experienced bowler after Babar faded last year.
Australia will also be under pressure to overcome the loss of their regular captain Steve Smith and dashing opener David Warner along with Cameron Bancroft after they were banned for up to a year for their part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March.
Sarfraz said he will attack Australia in their first Test since the ball-tampering saga.
“When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket,” said Sarfraz. “Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series.
“But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him.” Pakistan will also have 33-year-old off-spinner Bilal Asif who played three one-day internationals in 2015 but has yet to play a Test.
Another leg-spinner in the squad, Shadab Khan, is unlikely to feature in the eleven having not fully recovered from a groin injury, but recalled allrounder Mohammad Hafeez will turn his arm over as a back-up spinner.
Hafeez’s action was cleared as legal in May this year and could prove dangerous for Australian left-handers.
Sarfraz admitted Pakistan’s batsmen will also face a challenge against Australia’s veteran spinner Nathan Lyon who took 8-103 in the drawn tour game in Dubai earlier this week.
“We attacked him four years ago and at that time we had great batsmen in Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq,” said Sarfraz of the 2014 series when Lyon got only three wickets in two Tests.
“Four years on he is a better bowler so he will be their main bowler and a challenge for us,” said Sarfraz of Lyon, who grabbed 41 wickets in six matches in India and Bangladesh last year.
Without Younis and Misbah — both retired last year — Pakistan may succumb to their own medicine, as they did in their 2-0 defeat against Sri Lanka last year — their first series defeat in UAE since making it their neutral venue in 2009.
Sarfraz said Australia’s challenge would to improve their performance in Asia.
“Australia want to focus on an improved performance in Asia, so that’s their challenge while our focus and challenge is to play good cricket and win the series,” said Sarfraz, whose team drew their last series in England 1-1 in June this year.
Austlian captain Tim Paine admitted Yasir will pose challenge for his team.
“Yasir is clearly a world-class bowler who’s got a phenomenal record at this ground in Dubai. We’re going to have to take everything we’ve been working on,” said Paine.
“We’ve faced a hell of a lot spin, there’s no doubt about that and Australian touring sides always do,” said Paine.
Kohli scripts history, makes clean sweep of ICC awards
Dubai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has become the first player in history to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Intenational Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ODI Player of the Year awards following an extraordinary 2018.
Not only is Kohli the first player to win these three major ICC awards together, but he has also been named the captain of the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for a fabulous run in the international cricket.
Kohli scored a total of 1,322 runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 Tests with five hundreds during the calendar year, while in 14 ODIs he amassed 1,202 runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 with six centuries. He also scored 211 runs in 10 T20Is.
The 30-year-old from Delhi, who first came into limelight when he led India to victory at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008, finished the year as the top-ranked batsman in Tests and ODIs.
The highest scorer in both forms of the game in 2018, he was one of only two batsmen to score more than 1,000 runs in Tests and only among three to do so in ODI cricket.
Kohli was the unanimous choice of the ICC Voting Academy for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming in second to him for both this award and the ICC Test Player of the Year award. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner up to Kohli for the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.
Ecstatic to receive the honour, “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”
“To be rewarded in this manner from amongst all of them is obviously a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances. From that point of view, these awards give you that extra motivation,” he added.
Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson praised Kohli as well asl every cricketer who picked the award during the world body’s annual awards.
“Sincere congratulations to every one of our individual winners and those players named in our ICC Test and ODI teams of the year. Special mention must go to Virat Kohli, who becomes the first ever player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers award along with Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year and be named as captain of both teams,” he said.
Richardson stressed that in order to be recognized as a true cricketing great, one need to be successful in all format of the game and Kohli has become a great ambassador for our sport.
“This is well-deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent. His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance,” he said.
Kohli had won the Sir Garfield Trophy and ICC ODI Player of the Year awards last year and was also the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012.
‘Kohli will break all records created by Tendulkar’
Karachi:Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the bandwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.
Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49.
Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.
“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said.
It all boils down to skills, said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.
“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said.
Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs, was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had still not reached that standard.
“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said.
Abbas said there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure had improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.
“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said.
“India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot, especially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else.
They are giving so much financial security to their players.”
Pant is ICC’s Emerging Cricketer of 2018
Dubai:India’s young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was on Tuesday named as the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018.
“Congratulations to @RishabPant777, the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018!,” ICC tweeted.
Pant is the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England and Australia. The youngster also equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 during the Adelaide Test in December.
Left-handed Pant produced some fine knocks during the voting period and getting off the mark in Test cricket with a six only highlighted his potential. He scored 537 runs with a century and two fifties in eight Tests during the voting period with 40 catches and two stumpings. In three ODIs, he scored 41 runs and took three catches and in eight T20Is scored 114 runs and pouched two catches.