Pakistan lacking variety: Fleming

Ex-fast bowler critical of decision to play three left-arm paceman in first Test at the Gabba

Former Australia paceman Damien Fleming has questioned the make up of Pakistan’s fast-bowling line-up, declaring the tourists lack variety.

Pakistan's selectors opted for a trio of left-armers – Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Rahat Ali – for the first Commonwealth Bank Test at the Gabba, with the home team in a commanding position after two days of play.

Right-armers Sohail Khan (24 wickets from eight Tests) and Imran Khan (26 wickets from eight Tests) are also in Pakistan’s touring party but were overlooked for the opening match of the series.

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Riaz was the best of Pakistan’s bowlers, returning 4-89 as Australia piled on 429 in the first innings.

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Amir claimed 4-97 despite appearing to have suffered a serious knee injury while fielding on day one of the pink-ball Test and Ali (0-74) was wicketless after sending down 22 overs.

Australia’s pace attack contains one left-armer – Mitchell Starc – along with Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird, with the in-form group reducing Pakistan to 8-97.

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“I don’t like three left-arm quicks. I think you need variation,” Fleming told Optus Sport's 'Stumps' show.

“There was a wicket that Mitchell Starc took coming off a great partnership from Bird and Hazlewood, then all of a sudden you bring the left-armer on and there’s a nick.

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“If that’s the same line from a right-hander he probably would have played it. That’s worked perfectly for Australia but there’s not enough natural variation for Pakistan.

“I did notice how much taller Hazlewood and Starc are than the Pakistan quicks so they must be bouncing the ball 20-30cm higher and the nicks are getting higher, backed up by some good slips fielding.

Speaking before the first Test, Riaz – who has 69 wickets in his 22-match career – said Pakistan’s fast-bowling unit boasted plenty of variety.

The No.4-ranked Test nation arrived in Australia after a 2-0 loss in their Test series against New Zealand.

They played four quicks – Amir, Riaz, Sohail Khan and Imran Khan – in the second Test against the Kiwis, with Ali and star legspinner Yasir Shah recalled for the first exchange against Australia.

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“All the fast bowlers in this squad, they have their own speciality,” Riaz said.

“Amir bowls that inswinger really well, Rahat moves it both ways, I come with the pace, Sohail Khan has a tendency to have a good outswinger, with Imran Khan as well, so everybody is really good and working hard and it depends who gets a chance to play.

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“Obviously everyone wants to perform and it’s a good bunch of fast bowlers.

“We are confident in each other – it’s not about who’s playing and who’s not.”

Fleming, who took 75 wickets from 20 Tests, did praise Riaz’s tactics to Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade, who was removed by Amir for seven.

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“I tell you one set-up that I did like – from Wahab Riaz to Matty Wade,” Fleming said.

“The way that he bowled full, brought him forward, brought him forward and when he took him across the crease, it was shorter, it was quicker and (Wade had) been trained to get his weight forward and, guess what, his feet were nowhere so that was a bit of bowlology gold from the Pakistan quick.”

Retired Australia opener Chris Rogers was critical of Pakistan’s batsmen after the visitors lost 7-24 on the second day to erase any hopes of a first-up victory.

“They obviously don’t play in these conditions that often and the way they kept defending almost towards cover, that means the ball only has to move a touch in these conditions and all the edges are going to carry to the slips,” Rogers said on Optus Sport's 'Stumps' show.

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Pakistan has never won a Test series in Australia, with their last Test match triumph here coming at the SCG in 1995.

The final two games of the series will be staged in Melbourne (December 26-30) and Sydney (January 3-7).

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