Pakistan's answer to short-pitched threat

Tourists adopt unusual training method to combat bouncer-heavy approach adopted by Australian quicks

Pakistan have reverted to an unusual training method ahead of the Boxing Day Test as they look to counter the pace and bounce of Australia's dangerous fast-bowling attack.

The tourists today laid out two heavy marble-covered granite slabs in the middle of the MCG nets on Friday, which the Pakistan coaching team aimed at when firing some throw-downs at their batsmen, including skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.

The granite slab Pakistan's batsmen have been using to prepare for bouncier surfaces //
The granite slab Pakistan use to prepare for bouncy tracks //

The ball bounces and rears up sharply at the batsmen when it strikes the slab, replicating what the Pakistanis are sure to face from the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood in the middle of the MCG from Monday.

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The granite slabs have been used by the Pakistanis for decades; their introduction has been credited to Pakistan legend Javed Miandad and former coach Bob Woolmer was also a fan, and they made an appearance in the lead-up to the first Test in Brisbane last week.

Sri Lanka have followed suit, also employing the method this month as they set themselves for their upcoming three-Test series in South Africa. 

And their use by Pakistan again in Melbourne underlines just how serious a challenge the tourists face in unfamiliar conditions as they look to win their first-ever Test series in Australia.

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Opener Sami Aslam, who didn't bat in the net with the slab today, said it was an important training technique for some players.

"The slab is important for bouncy deliveries; many players feel practicing on that will help them on the bouncier pitches, so they use the slab," he said.

"Here the pitches themselves have so much bounce that I don’t feel I need to use a slab ... but every batsman is different.

"I think it is just what you feel easy about doing in preparation. I do use it when in Pakistan and when we plan to come here."

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Aslam, who was struck on the body on several occasions in making 22 and 15 at the Gabba, conceded he took some time to adjust to the bouncy surface in his first Test on Australian soil.

And despite a solid preparation for the series courtesy of a warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI in Cairns, he said playing in the heat of a Test match was a different challenge entirely.

"A Test is a really different scenario so the first innings in Brisbane was a little difficult," he said.

"It was very different bounce and it was the first time I have played on a surface like this, with so much bounce.

"But in the second innings, it was quite a bit easier and I think we’re looking forward to batting again here."

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On surfaces in Melbourne and Sydney that are expected to suit Pakistan more than any others in Australia, Aslam says the tourists can carry the momentum from their record-breaking fourth innings at the Gabba into the second Test this week.

Having been ripped out for just 142 in their first innings in Brisbane, the tourists defied the Australians for 145 overs in the second and came within 40 runs off pulling off what would have been an extraordinary victory.

"The way we played that last innings, we got a lot of confidence," he said.

"It was of real benefit to us, especially when you go ahead into the next Test. The morale is completely different, because you’ve scored so many runs.

"We are quite confident and very united about winning this Test and levelling the series."

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