'Preparation will be more on recovery part': AUS coach Andrew McDonald optimistic of having fit squad for selection
McDonald feels that the gap between the two matches will be enough for the bowlers to recover well for the series decider and admitted that there are no injury concerns as of yet
Australia coach Andrew McDonald is "optimistic" of having an entire fit squad for the selection for the third and final Test against Pakistan which will begin from March 21 in Lahore. McDonald feels that the gap between the two matches will be enough for the bowlers to recover well for the series decider and admitted that there are no injury concerns as of yet, adding that the players are so in a good mental space for the Lahore game.
Australian bowlers sent down 178 overs in the final innings of the Karachi Test, with the spin duo of Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson delivering 108 of those overs in a bid to stop Pakistan from pulling of a draw to keep the three-match series at 0-0. Earlier, the first Test had ended in a draw as well in Rawalpindi. Despite the workload on the bowlers, McDonald revealed that all the signs are good for the deciding Lahore clash.
"Firstly, in terms of how everyone has pulled up with this, all the signs are good. We sort of have four days in between before the next Test so I feel there will be ample recovery time. We've got a good team. We are optimistic that everyone will be fit and available for selection and then it is about assessing what is in front of us and then we go at the Gaddafi Stadium in terms of selection," he replied to a Hindustan Times query during a virtual press conference on Friday.
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Australia dominated through a major part of the Test match in Karachi. After declaring their first innings at 556 for nine, the bowlers folded Pakistan for just 148 before setting a colossal target of 506 with a little over five sessions left in the Test. However, a valiant 196 from Pakistan captain Babar Azam and a timely century from Mohammad Rizwan helped Pakistan eke out a draw and force a decider in Lahore. McDonald revealed that despite the result in the game from the position of dominance, the Australian players are in a good mental state for the final game and he hopes that they go about with the game plan in a similar fashion and create opportunities.
"In terms of the mental state of the playing group, we're fine. It really enforces the style of cricket we are playing here, where we can hold up and put ourselves into positions where we have the opportunities to win games. And that is the most exciting thing. Committing to that same game plan again is exactly what we are trying to do," he said.
Coming to Lahore, the conditions will remain unknown for the visitors as the Gaddafi stadium will be hosting its first-ever Test match since 2009, although it did hold a T20I match last October and hosted PSL games in the 2022 season. Despite the absence of sufficient data, the Aussie coach feels that while data fails to provide information on pitch conditions, much will be decided based on toss results.
"Most of the time you will be making decisions based on the eye and then you have the data to challenge your thinking. Data can sway you in one way or the other but it has nothing to do with reading the pitch and telling you potentially what to do at the time of toss. So it is about toss of the coin and making decisions around that and then going on from there so we are assuming that we win the toss. We pretty much play what is in front of us and I don't think anyone or any data would have predicted what happened in the first two Test matches," he said.
The Karachi Test result once again highlights Australia's recent struggle in the fourth innings in terms of bowling. Since 2019, thrice have matches ended in a draw in nine Tests where they have bowled second and lost once. But the 40-year-old dismissed the issue explaining that as long as the bowlers keep creating opportunities, which they did in Karachi, the conversation remains irrelevant.
"Well the assumption is that we are winning the toss (laughs)... that would be a very good thing. We would love to talk about the fourth innings again after winning the toss. But again, we did create opportunities and that is the biggest thing from the bowling perspective to do. Had we not created opportunities, the conversation would be real. In terms of the bowling unit and our plans and our attack that we are implementing at certain stages. But the ability to create opportunities and the plans are working and the bowlers are executing at the right time. Had we made the most of the opportunities we wouldn't have been having this conversation. The way of judging a bowling attack is based on the opportunities they create. And there were enough chances there to potentially win that game," he said.
Although, the one concern that McDonald expressed was about catching given that the Aussies missed a couple of opportunities in that department. However, he added that the preparation for the final Test will be more on the recovery part and less on skill work for the players.
"I think batting has been solid and there were opportunities we created with the ball. So maybe at this moment, the slight concern will be about taking those catches at those critical times, but that is not unlike any other team. But in terms of the preparation we have done and in terms of the volume of work that the players do for those moments can't fall bad. So we continue to do so and make sure we are preparing right and it will be a little bit different based on how condensed this Test is. So there will be a lot of rest and recoveries as opposed to skill work which they have done a lot back at home in preparation for the first and second Test match. So little drop off on the skill work and more on the recovery part so that the bodies are right to go, physically and mentally," he said.
[Watch the LIVE coverage of the Australia Tour of Pakistan - 3rd test on SONY SIX & SONY SIX HD channels starting March 21, 2022 at 10:30 am IST.]