“You’ve got to know when you put your complement of bowlers together, particularly in Australia … that he can bowl the overs because the wickets are so good.”
Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis insisted in Brisbane that Naseem wasn’t injured and that he needed to managed carefully due to his age. Such caution could lead to him being left out in Adelaide.
There are changes afoot to the Pakistan side after an innings defeat. Leading seamer Mohammad Abbas is likely to return to the side in the place of Imran Khan after being a shock omission in Brisbane and reports out of Pakistan suggest 19-year-old Musa Khan is in line to make his debut, a promotion that might squeeze out Naseem. Further up the batting order, Imam-ul-Haq is set to replace Haris Sohail.
Amid the remodelling, one constant should be Yasir Shah, who carried the bulk of the load over two days in the field at the Gabba and who, with his celebratory gesture after dismissing Steve Smith for a seventh time in Tests, may have “woken the beast”, according to teammates of the Australia No.4.
Smith says Yasir’s seven-finger salute has given him extra motivation but according to Arthur it was far more a reflection of the leg-spinner’s eccentricity than a suggestion that he had Smith’s number.
“It certainly shouldn’t be interpreted as that. He would never say that in an arrogant way at all,” said Arthur. “He’s an amazing man, he’s got charisma, he’s energetic. He’s got chutzpah in abundance. He’s a delight to have around because he’s just such a character.
“He was obviously frustrated because I thought he bowled quite well. I didn’t think he had quite the right fields at times but I thought he bowled very, very well, better than his figures gave him justice for. If he didn’t bowl that well, they would have been really struggling because without Naseem Shah I don’t know who would have bowled. I’m sure there was a bit of frustration but there is no way he would have ever done that in an arrogant manner at all. He’s not that type of character.”
Iman, who could return to the side as an opener with captain Azhar Ali shifting to No.3, said Pakistan’s spirits had been lifted by the fightback with the bat from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan in Brisbane.
“When you spend two long days in the field and after that the way Babar and Rizwan showed the fight, it gives you confidence, it gives you a boost,” Imam said. “The Adelaide wicket is slightly
different to the Brisbane wicket and it’s good for batsmen as well and it has a little bit of help for the spinners.
“But our batsmen are very confident, very good in the practise matches as well. As a Test team
you work hard in the nets and prepare for the worst and hopefully it will be a different result.”
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.