Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Aussies wary of Pakistan dangerman Abbas
Their chief tormenter from the series defeat in the UAE 12 months ago will have the Australians being very watchful at the Gabba
Adam Burnett in Brisbane
18 November 2019, 07:35 PM AEST
Since Mohammad Abbas debuted in Test cricket in April 2017, no bowler to have taken 25-plus wickets has ticked along at an average better than his 18.66.
Through the same period, no batsman with 250-plus runs can match Steve Smith's mark of 78.27.
From Thursday in the first Test in Brisbane, Smith and Abbas will square off for the first time – in any format.
And while the wheels of 16-year-old Naseem Shah have caused considerable excitement in the build-up to this two-match series, the Australians have first-hand experience of the sort of damage the right-armer is capable of inflicting.
It was only 13 months ago that, in Australia's first Test series since Smith's suspension, Abbas scythed through Tim Paine's team to the tune of 17 wickets in two matches.
And unlike the out-and-out pace of the Australians or even his Pakistani counterparts, Abbas hovers at a moderate 130kph on the speed gun, relying instead on an unerring line and length, and a canny knack of hitting the seam, to take his wickets.
"I've never faced him, but he obviously bowled really well in that series in Dubai last year," Smith said in Brisbane. "He's a bowler that stands the seam up, and any movement he'll get the most out of it.
"We'll have to be really disciplined against him, that's for sure."
Marnus Labuschagne debuted in that UAE series and was a victim of Abbas's in the second Test, and the right-hander sees a likeness with an Aussie Test veteran.
"He's very similar to Peter Siddle in that he's close to the stumps, he's moving the ball both ways – nipping it in, nipping it away – so he's going to be a really good challenge," Labuschagne told cricket.com.au.
"Any bowler that runs in and hits the seam very consistently is tough to play … He's going to be a really big bowler for them, so if we can find ways to really dominate him and come up with some good plans, that will put a lot of pressure on their younger bowlers."
Smith also forecast Australia's willingness to engage in a war of attrition across five days at the Gabba, with Test experience a key factor in overcoming any threat posed by the raw speed of Naseem.
"Being as young as he is, he probably hasn't bowled lots of overs consistently," Smith said of the teenager.
"For us, it will just be about making him come back and bowl as many spells as he can, and see if he can maintain it.
"It's going to be hard work for him up here, in some pretty warm conditions as well.
"So we try and get the overs into him and hopefully, if he's bowling well early on we'll be able to cash in later on."
Just three more sleeps until the Test summer begins! #AUSvPAK | @alintaenergy pic.twitter.com/CmCnl61JYL— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 18, 2019
Pat Cummins is yet to face Pakistan in Test cricket but the paceman has fond memories of Waqar Younis in his latter-days bowling "big, fast inswinging yorkers" and Shoaib Akhtar "pushing off the fence and bowling a million miles an hour".
The vice-captain, however, was another to quickly identify the subtler skills of Abbas, who has played 14 of Pakistan's past 16 Tests, capturing 66 wickets.
"He's been really impressive in his Test career so far," Cummins told cricket.com.au. "He's a bit different from your traditional fast bowler in that he's at you all day at the top of off-stump, so you need to have a really solid defence against him.
"Hopefully we can get him coming back for spell after spell, but he does look quite a complete bowler."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: Australia A v Pakistan, match drawn
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)