Pakistan have not enjoyed playing in Australia. They have lost 10 consecutive Tests Down Under since the start of the 21st century. In the Brisbane Test, they gave Australia a scare but they lost by 39 runs. However, they will head into the second Test in Melbourne high on confidence, having notched up 450 in the fourth innings at the Gabba, which is the highest total in the last innings of a Test in Australia.
In order to stay alive in the three-Test series, Pakistan have devised a ‘concrete’ solution to counter the pace and bounce of the Melbourne pitch. During the net sessions, the Pakistan coaching staff laid out two heavy marble-coloured granite slabs in the middle of the MCG practice pitches. The staff then aimed at the slab by firing in throw-downs at the batsmen, one of which was skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
The ball had some extra bounce and it reared up sharply on batsmen, preparing them for Australia’s three-pronged pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Pakistan opener Sami Aslam said this method is important for batsmen to cope with the extra bounce on Australia’s pitches.
“Players feel practising on the granite slab will help them on the bouncier pitches. Here the pitches themselves have so much bounce that I don’t feel I need to use a slab,” said Aslam, who made 22 and 15 in the Brisbane Test
Not the first time
This is not the first time that a visiting team has employed granite slabs to counter bouncy and pacy conditions. Before embarking on the tour to South Africa, Sri Lanka’s cricketers trained on granite surfaces in anticipation of having to deal with the Proteas’ strong fast bowling attack in conditions that will have a bit of extra bounce and pace.
- Pakistan have not won a Test match in Australia since 1995
- Pakistan have won only four Tests in Australia since 1964
- Australia lead the three-match series against Pakistan 1-0
Bob Woolmer, who was the former coach of Pakistan from 2004 till 2007, was a big fan of using concrete slabs to counter rising deliveries. According to a report in ESPNCricinfo, it was Javed Miandad who first used the concrete slab method during the 2003/04 home series against India.
Pakistan will be aiming to win a series for the first time Down Under and they will be desperate to snap their 10-match losing streak in Australia.
In 33 Tests that Pakistan have played in Australia since 1964, they have won only four Tests. However, two of these wins have come at Melbourne while the other two have come at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), where they will play the next Test.