With the eagerly awaited three-match Test series between Australia and Pakistan set to kick off on December 14 in Perth, cricket enthusiasts are buzzing with anticipation. The Pakistani squad, aiming to acclimate to the Australian conditions, recently engaged in a 4-day warm-up match against Prime Minister XI. The highlight of the practice game was Shan Masood‘s remarkable performance, where he notched an unbeaten double century (201*), setting the stage for a thrilling series.

Shan Masood’s arrival and captaincy responsibilities

Masood, who leads Pakistan in the upcoming series after taking over the captaincy from Babar Azam, made a strong statement with his stellar innings in the warm-up match. The expectations are high for Masood, especially as he steps into the leadership role following Babar’s decision to relinquish captaincy across formats due to Pakistan’s disappointing performance in the ODI World Cup 2023.

Historical challenges and Pakistan’s contender status

Pakistan face significant odds as they strive to secure their first-ever Test series win in Australia. With only four Test victories down under, the last of which occurred in 1995, the historical records are against them. Nevertheless, with a squad boasting familiar names, including Babar, Masood, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, and Imam-ul-Haq, Pakistan enter the series as serious contenders, poised to rewrite history.

Also READ: AUS vs PAK 2023 – Stats and records of Australia and Pakistan against each other in Test cricket

Pakistan’s best playing XI for the Test series against Australia:

Openers:

Abdullah Shafique: The opening slot will be entrusted to the dynamic Abdullah Shafique, known for his solid technique and ability to weather the new ball. With a promising start to his Test career, Shafique’s composure and adaptability make him a key player at the top of the order. In 14 Tests, the right-handed batter has scored 1220 runs, with 4 hundreds.

Imam-ul-Haq: Partnering with Shafique will be the experienced Imam-ul-Haq, who brings stability and a penchant for big scores. Known for his consistent performances, Imam’s contribution in providing a steady foundation will be crucial for Pakistan’s success. Imam has scored 1474 runs in 22 Tests, including 3 centuries.

Solid middle-order:

Shan Masood: Masood, the skipper for the series, enters with a stunning double century in the warm-up match, signaling his intent. As the linchpin of the middle order, his captaincy and ability to convert starts into substantial innings will be pivotal for Pakistan’s fortunes. Masood has 1597 runs in 30 matches with 4 hundreds.

Babar Azam: Former captain Babar remains a linchpin in the middle order. His elegant stroke play and leadership experience will be instrumental. Babar’s ability to control the innings and guide the team during crucial phases makes him a key player. In 49 Tests, Babar has amassed 3772 runs, including 9 centuries.

Mohammad Rizwan: The wicketkeeper-batter, Rizwan, brings grit and determination to the middle order. His recent performances have showcased his ability to play crucial innings under pressure, adding resilience to Pakistan’s batting lineup. He has scored 1423 runs from 28 matches with the help of 2 hundreds.

Saud Shakeel: The elegant left-hander Saud Shakeel adds a touch of finesse to Pakistan’s batting lineup. Known for his classical stroke play and temperament, Shakeel brings stability and the ability to anchor the innings. With a penchant for building partnerships and converting starts into substantial scores, he is expected to play a crucial role in steadying the ship during challenging periods. In 7 Tests, Shakeel has scored 875 runs, including a couple of centuries.

All-rounder:

Faheem Ashraf: The all-rounder role is entrusted to Faheem Ashraf, adding balance to both the batting and bowling departments. Faheem’s ability to contribute with both bat and ball provides versatility, offering crucial depth to the team. In 16 Tests, Faheem has taken 24 wickets and scored 673 runs with 4 fifties.

Dynamic bowling attack:

Shaheen Afridi: Leading the pace attack will be the dynamic left-arm pacer Shaheen. Renowned for his ability to swing the ball both ways, Shaheen’s early breakthroughs and consistent performances make him a potent threat to the Australian batting lineup. In 27 Tests, Shaheen has taken 105 wickets with 10/94 being his best performance.

Hasan Ali: Hasan is a proven wicket-taker with the ability to generate movement and bounce. His aggressive approach and knack for breaking partnerships make him a formidable force in the bowling arsenal. The right-armer has 78 scalps to his name in 22 matches, including a 10-wicket haul.

Mohammad Wasim Jr: The young and promising fast bowler, Mohammad Wasim Jr, adds a fresh dimension to the pace attack. His ability to generate pace and bounce, combined with a good line and length, makes him a player to watch out for in challenging Australian conditions. Wasim has only played a couple of Tests so far, in which he has taken 2 wickets.

Sajid Khan: Bringing spin expertise to the lineup is Sajid Khan, the leg-spinner expected to play a crucial role in providing breakthroughs in the middle overs. Sajid’s variations and control make him an essential component of Pakistan’s bowling strategy. Notably, Sajid has replaced Abrar Ahmed, who has been ruled out of the opening Test. Sajid has so far taken 22 wickets from 7 Tests.

Also READ: Former Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir names his favourite bowler of the modern era

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