Pakistan's Yasir targets 20 Australian scalps, series win

Shah has grown in stature and wickets with each series

Pakistan's Yasir targets 20 Australian scalps, series win PHOTO: AFP

Match-winning Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah has sent a warning to Australia's batsmen that he is targeting 20 wickets and a win in the two-match Test series starting in Dubai on Sunday.

The 32-year-old has been Pakistan's main spin weapon since making his Test debut against Australia at the same venue four years ago.

He and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar took 26 wickets between them to rout Australia 2-0.

Yasir again holds the key for Pakistan in the two-match series, with the second in Abu Dhabi from October 16.

"I have a target of 20 wickets," Yasir told AFP. "I know how important it will be to take wickets so that remains my target and for the team to win the series which is very important."

Yasir has grown in stature and wickets with each series. He took 24 wickets in three Tests in a series win over Sri Lanka a year later.

His 10 wickets at Lord's and five at The Oval formed the basis of Pakistan's 1-1 series draw in England two years ago before he took 25 in a 2-1 win in the West Indies in 2017 — Pakistan's first series win in the Caribbean.

Yasir said Australia will miss the guile of banned duo Steven Smith and David Warner, who are each banned for a year for their part in a ball-tampering row in South Africa earlier this year.

"No doubt, Smith and Warner are two world-class players and Australia will miss them," said Yasir. "(They) know the art of staying at the wicket so that will be missed by Australia. But we can't take any team lightly. They have a few good players and a few of them I have played with in the Big Bash (Australia's Twenty20 league) so I know their strong and weak points. You can't say they are weak, maybe inexperienced. They're always a strong side. That series (in 2014) was my first and so I'm going to try to improve on that."

Yasir, who played for Brisbane Heat last year, said he has improved his googly because it was "a bit weak".

"I've been working on that. I think I'm 70-80 percent there with the googly and that's going to come in handy here," he said.

He said he was constantly analysing his bowling and always on the lookout for new techniques.

"I do look over those videos from YouTube quite a bit," he said. "I look at how I went in those matches, analysing how it has gone and try to replicate my good deliveries."

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed made clear he will attack Australia through Yasir.

"When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket," said Sarfraz. "Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series. But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him."

Pakistan will also have 33-year-old off-spinner Bilal Asif, who played three one-day internationals in 2015 but has yet to play a Test.

Recalled all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez could too prove dangerous for Australian left-handers.

The second Test is in Abu Dhabi starting on October 16. The teams will play three Twenty20 internationals after the Test series.


Australia: Tim Paine (capt), Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc.

Pakistan (from): Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz and Mir Hamza.