'Not an upset': Pakistan to expose Aussie cracks after Warner-Johnson explosion

Caden Helmers
Updated December 4 2023 - 4:44pm, first published 3:41pm

Pakistan believe they can find a crack in an Australian cricket team which has spent months on the road during a taxing year, while a standoff is brewing between the host nation's past and current players.

WATCH: Australia has beaten previously undefeated tournament favourites India by six wickets to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and extend their staggering record of title wins. Vision courtesy: Nine Network/Unique Kabaddi Media Global

The touring Pakistan side has arrived in Canberra ahead of a vital Prime Minister's XI clash at Manuka Oval beginning on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister's XI have been dealt a blow with Michael Neser ruled out with soreness, opening the door for South Australian Jordan Buckingham to claim a place in the side.

Pakistan have won just four Tests on Australian soil in history, but wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed is confident his side can silence its doubters against an Australian team which has won the World Test Championship in London, defended the Ashes in England, and won a one-day World Cup in India throughout the past six months.

"It's not an upset if you're talking about our team," Ahmed said.

"We have a very settled team if we're talking about our batting and bowling. We want to play good cricket against a top-quality team, so, Inshallah, hope for the best."

Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed preparing for the Prime Minister's XI clash. Picture by Gary Ramage
Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed preparing for the Prime Minister's XI clash. Picture by Gary Ramage

The former Australian quick rubbished the idea of Warner being allowed to pick his departure date after his role in the sandpaper scandal five years ago and, more recently, dwindling returns in the Test arena.

Johnson's comments have been shot down by Australian chair of selectors George Bailey, who is more concerned with the fitness of Queensland quick Neser in his push to earn a Test recall.

"We're taking a cautious approach with Michael, the elevated risk of potentially another large bowling load in the four-day PM XI's fixture was deemed too high," Bailey said.

"We know Michael is a quality player and we have seen him perform in the Test team. We want to ensure that should the opportunity arise to play more Test cricket this summer that we are giving him the best chance to be ready to perform.

"Over the coming days we will work with the Brisbane Heat's medical team to determine his Big Bash League availability."

Buckingham spent part of the Australian winter in England, playing three games for Northamptonshire, while also suiting up for Australia A against New Zealand A.

The 23-year-old has taken 14 wickets in three Shield games for South Australia this summer, including a career best 7-71 against Tasmania in October.

Caden Helmers

Caden Helmers

Sports Journalist

Caden Helmers is a sports journalist for The Canberra Times.

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