Babar warns Pakistan will give Australia a 'tough time' in battle for Benaud-Qadir Trophy

By Sports Desk March 03, 2022

Babar Azam says Pakistan are ready to give Australia a "tough time" when a historic three-match series gets under way at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Australia will be playing their first Test in Pakistan for 24 years and the two nations will be competing for the honour of lifting the Benaud-Qadir Trophy for the first time.

Pakistan whitewashed Bangladesh 2-0 in their last Test series, but they will have to do without the injured Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf along with Haris Rauf – who tested positive for coronavirus.

Australia are top of the rankings after thrashing England 4-0 to retain the Ashes, but Babar says Pakistan can bring them back down to earth.

The Pakistan captain said: "It did disturb our combination, especially injuries to Faheem and Hasan. Faheem contributes both with ball and bat, and Hasan is one of the top bowlers, a proven match-winner.

"Still, we have Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, who both are bowling well, and Fawad Alam and [Mohammad] Rizwan in good batting form. Australia is one of the best sides, we can't take it easy against them.

"We did well against Bangladesh. In this series, too, we will do well and give them a tough time. Fans can expect quality cricket from us."

Andrew McDonald has been installed as Australia's interim head coach after Justin Langer's departure.

Both Babar and Australia skipper Pat Cummins revealed they will wait until the coin toss to name their sides after they were unable to take a look at the pitch due to rain on Thursday.

Cummins said: "We're pretty sure [what the team will be] but we just want to have another look at the wicket, and we probably won't get the chance today, so we'll have a think late this arvo [afternoon] to work out the XI, or tomorrow morning,

"We've got a fair idea what we want to do, but don't want to make the call too early without fully knowing what the wicket is."

Australia were 1-0 winners in their last Test series in Pakistan back in 1998.

Babar to rack up the runs in Rawalpindi again?

Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for run machine Babar.

The prolific skipper has scored two centuries and a half-century in his four Tests at the venue, where he averages 110 in the longest format.

Babar's last reached three figures in a Test in Rawalpindi just over two years ago, making 143 versus Bangladesh.

 

Warner a thorn in Pakistan's side

David Warner has a staggering average of 108.4 against Pakistan in the longest format – the best of any player in any history to have been at the crease at least six times against them.

That average soared after the Australia opener made a magnificent 335 not out when the Pakistan attack toiled in the second Test at Adelaide Oval in 2019. Warner also scored a hundred in the first match of that series, which Australia won 2-0.

Warner will be eager to put the misery of bagging a pair in his last Test, against England in Hobart, behind him when he bats in Pakistan for the first time in a Test.

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