Arthur defends Pakistan team selection, backs senior batsmen

Mohammad Amir is ecstatic after Mitchell Starc edges to the slip cordon Cricket Australia

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has defended the selection of three left-arm fast bowlers in the attack for the first Test at the Gabba, where Australia piled on 429 in the first innings. Mohammad Amair, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz made up the Pakistan pace attack for the Test, while the other fast bowlers in the touring squad, Imran Khan and Sohail Khan, were overlooked.

"We've got an attack that's pretty balanced and we've got guys that are sort of specialists in all areas," Arthur said on ABC radio on Saturday morning. "Like we've got Imran Khan sitting off who bowls well with wickets with a lot of grass on. I wouldn't be speaking out of line if I said I don't think he has got the pace to bowl on a good wicket here. But when it does a little bit he's fantastic.

"Sohail Khan comes in and swings it right arm, but I've got a doubt about Sohail's comebackability. If he has got to bowl, his first spell's very good, his second spell's okay, his third spell is tough and then you just don't get anything more. That puts a lot of pressure on our other units.

"I think we picked our three best bowlers. I think we've always got to pick your three best bowlers. I'd be lying if I said we didn't have a look at the Australian side, seven left-handers in their XI, if we get it to swing it's left-arm to left-arm."

However, Pakistan's bowling was far from their major problem on the first two days in Brisbane, where their batting order collapsed to be 8 for 67 before Sarfraz Ahmed led a minor recovery. Among those out cheaply were captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who was caught at slip for 4, and veteran Younis Khan, who edged behind first ball.

Younis has endured a lean patch with his last six Test innings reading 0, 2, 1, 2, 11 and 0, although he scored 218 against England at The Oval this year and a century in his next Test against West Indies in Abu Dhabi. Misbah also made a hundred on the England Test tour and, Arthur said, despite the age of the elder statesmen in the batting order, he was confident they still had something to offer.

"I've seen Misbah do it time and time again," Arthur said. "And Younis Khan is just a complete professional, he really is. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little doubt in my mind. But I had that doubt in England and I saw Younis come out and play exceptionally well, albeit against a different attack. So I'm backing him in for the time being."

Pakistan's batsmen struggled to get through the difficult period under lights on the second day in Brisbane, where Australia's fast men used the pink ball and the movement in the air to great effect. Asked on radio by former Australia opening batsman Chris Rogers whether there were day-night Test cricket led to problems due to the imbalance of conditions, Arthur agreed.

"I think there are. I would agree and you can appreciate, being an opening batsmen, it's not an even playing field," Arthur said. "You walk out at 1 o'clock in glorious conditions like this, it's a totally different ball game than opening up at 6 o'clock or 6.30 or whenever they go out. So there are still issues around it, I think, definitely.

"I think it's the future. If you're playing just one a summer, you've got to do it. Funny enough in Dubai it didn't do anything. I was surprised when that they had it at the Gabba, because the Gabba was the one where the conditions might be extreme. In Adelaide it seems to be good, although the ball does goes round. It is the future, I agree with you though I don't think the playing fields are even."