Pakistan to Face Australia on Fast, Hard Wicket in First Test

 Pakistan to Face Australia on Fast, Hard Wicket in First Test

Pakistan to Face Australia on Fast, Hard Wicket in First Test

PERTH: Ten millimetres of grass have been left on the Optus Stadium pitch two days before the first Test between Australia and Pakistan, but more is expected to be shaved off with head curator Isaac McDonald predicting a “hard, fast, and bouncy” surface.

Pressure has been placed on the ground staff following a sedate pitch in last summer’s dreary Test between Australia and the West Indies. Which lasted well into the fifth day. This is only the fourth Test to be played at the 60,000-capacity stadium, which has yet to draw large crowds.

A fiery wicket mimicking the WACA’s famous pace and bounce is being hoped for to help spark a Test match. With seemingly much at stake for Western Australia cricket. The drop-in pitch was moved into the stadium’s playing surface less than three weeks ago. Having been curated at Optus Stadium since February. It contains the same local clay and grass species as the surfaces at the WACA. Although pitches there played sluggishly earlier in the Sheffield Shield season.”

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The Optus Stadium drop-in pitch was inserted during oppressive late-spring weather. But the match is expected to be played in somewhat milder temperatures, around 30-degrees Celsius.
“The conditions are really favourable for making a really nice, fast, hard and bouncy wicket,” McDonald told reporters on Tuesday, with a green-tinged pitch notable in the backdrop.

“I’m really happy with the presentation and how it’s going. “At the moment I’m at 10mm [of grass] and that’s where I started last year’s game. But there’s still a day of prep. It’s hard to give a number, but I can’t see it staying at 10. Definitely not having as much grass on top is what I’m aiming for.”

With temperatures forecast to be milder. In contrast to many Perth Test matches played in stifling conditions, the pitch is unlikely to crack in the backend of the match. “I just don’t think it gets hot enough. You need like three days of high 30s-mid-40s to really make it blow open,” McDonald said. “In this stadium, we are quite sheltered whereas at the WACA it’s open and you get the wind, so it’s a different kind of an environment where we’re kind of stuck in.”
With conditions set to be pace-friendly, there could be a temptation to bowl first for the captain who wins the toss. “I think there’s a little bit of grass on it, I can see from afar. So maybe a bit of seam movement early on and probably get a bit flatter as the game goes on,” Australia vice-captain Steven Smith said. “I assume it’ll have some decent pace and bounce, which is what it normally does here… but we’ll wait and see and play it by ear each day.”

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While the focus will be on the quicks, Australia’s major edge appears to be returning offspinner Nathan Lyon. Who has previously extracted menacing bounce in his previous three Tests on the ground, yielding 22 wickets.

“I enjoy my role here. “I enjoy bowling here because there’s good bounce and it’s a nice place to bowl,” Lyon said. “The wicket appears to be a typical Perth wicket.” It’s all good.” Pakistan will be without legspinner Abrar Ahmed due to a leg injury. But left-arm spinner Noman Ali is expected to play. After a four-day match against the Prime Minister’s XI on a sedate surface in Canberra. They began their preparation for the expected faster pitch with a centre-wicket training session at the WACA on Monday.

“That was the slowest pitch a visiting team could ever play on in Australia,” Pakistan team director Mohammad Hafeez said on Monday. “As a team, we are really happy with our preparations because we ticked most of the boxes.” 

Web Desk

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