Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Aussies fly in spin twins for crash course
New coach Langer continues to think outside the box with arrival of Indian spin pair for net practice
Louis Cameron in Dubai
25 September 2018, 11:35 AM AEST
Australia are undergoing a crash course in facing spin bowling, flying in a pair of Indian wrist-spinners to Dubai as they look to find a way to negate Pakistan's star bowlers Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan.
World-class spinners operating on turning decks have long been the Achilles heels of visiting teams to Asia and new coach Justin Langer is doing everything possible to equip Australia's undermanned top-order.
Yasir ran rampant against Australia on their last Test tour of the United Arab Emirates in 2014 and he now has a budding leg-spinning partner in Shadab Khan, one of the game's most highly-rated young prospects.
Former India allrounder Sridharan Sriram has again been enlisted by Australia as a consultant coach to help unlock the mysteries of the subcontinent, bringing with him two wrist-spinners; leggie Pardeep Sahu, who has played at Aaron Finch's Indian Premier League side Kings XI Punjab, and left-arm wrist spinner KK Jiyas, who trained with the Australians on their one-day tour of India 12 months ago.
Donning the official team kit, the pair has bowled tirelessly to the Aussies as they trained for a third straight day in scorching desert temperatures that haven't dropped below 40 degrees Celsius.
"We're pretty lucky that our spin bowling coach Sri is from India and gladly dragged over a couple of mates of his from back home," paceman Peter Siddle told cricket.com.au.
"They're experienced and they're very good bowlers in their own right. They're putting in a good contest in the nets, they're bowling a lot of overs.
"In the past we've come into series, worked hard on spin, but not specifically on (their opponents') bowling, what deliveries they bowl and the cues to watch as a batter.
"They (Pakistan) have got two star leg-spinners, Yasir Shah – who we've played before, he's a great player – and Shadab Khan, who's been playing and we expect to line up."
Not only have the two Indians been an integral part of the Aussies' preparation in the nets, they were also involved in an intriguing team discussion held in the open at the ICC Academy on Sunday.
In a brief respite from their exhausting physical preparation in the punishing heat, players and coaches sat on plastic chairs in the shade and discussed wrist-spin bowling at length.
Sahu, who once took all 10 wickets in an innings for his Mumbai club team, took questions from the group as he appeared to explain different leg-spin varieties and what cues to look for to successfully pick them.
"They've been able to jump in and give us little tips on their ideas and the different types of deliveries that they have, what to watch and what to look out for," Siddle explained.
"It's definitely helping the batters in this group, they've learnt a lot in the couple of days they've got to work with them.
"All this planning is great to get done early. When the practice match (on Saturday, against Pakistan A) comes we can work on a game focus and see the improvements there."
Shadab has just the four Tests to his name and is yet to replicate his limited-overs success in Test cricket. Still only 19, he impressed in a brief stint for the Brisbane Heat during last summer's KFC Big Bash League before Yasir replaced him at the club when he departed for national duties.
Siddle said the Australians are wary of both.
"Spin bowling is going to play a massive part, they're going to bowl a lot of overs, a lot more than the quicks," he said. "It is good to really concentrate on different deliveries and that type of bowling.
"Shabab and Yasir are both leg-spinners, they both bowl totally different. Making the most of the leg-spinners that we've had in the nets here … their change-ups have really helped us.
"(Yasir) bowled well against us last series over here, he took a lot of wickets. It's going to be the number one plan to keep him out but he's not the only one we've got to focus on."
Langer's outside-the-box thinking was evident during Australia's first session after touching down in the UAE, with the former Test opener placing empty water bottles on a good length for spinners to aim at.
The measures are designed to make the conditions feel less foreign to a fresh-faced Test squad, something Siddle believes has been aided by the exposure younger players have gained in recent times through National Performance Squad and Australia A tours to the subcontinent.
"These days, the boys have played a lot over in the subcontinent, even the younger guys," he said.
"They've been exposed to those conditions. You're not coming here to an unknown world not knowing anything, the young guys are well prepared."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai
Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi