Australia should expect Pakistan to put up a fight, says Roebuck

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Melbourne, Dec. 26 (ANI): Australia must not rest on the laurels that it has achieved in the recent series against the West Indies, but should be concerned about the possibility of Pakistan putting up a fight in a series that commences between the two countries from today at the MCG, says noted cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.

In a syndicated column for the Sydney Morning Herald, Roebuck believes that Pakistan is better placed than most visiting sides to produce their best at the MCG.

"The Pakistanis have completed a series in the neighbourhood and played a proper warm-up in Hobart. Accordingly, Mohammad Yousuf's handy outfit can be expected to put up a fight. Australia's main worry lies in the after-effects of their conduct unbecoming in Perth. The idea that passion and petulance are unavoidably intertwined is an excuse presented by boofheads," Roebuck says.

Roebuck describes Yousuf as an unexpected and interesting leader of a mercurial side.

"Pakistan cricket has more schemers per square yard than the NSW Labor Party. Yousuf was chosen to replace Younus. Yousuf is an accomplished batsman. He averages 54 in Test cricket and stands fifth in the official rankings, higher than any Australian (Younus is seventh, with Michael Clarke sandwiched in between). Yousuf is consistent, correct and durable, exactly the qualities needed by a notably fickle order," he says.

"Most of Pakistan's batsmen have sound techniques but tend to get caught up in the mood, like clothes in a washing machine. Much will depend on the opening pair's ability to lay foundations," he adds.

"Pakistan's bowling is stronger than their batting. All three speedsters are dangerous and even the reserves can be a handful... Pakistan have a weak point. They bat and bowl like a Test team but field like fourth-graders after a night on the turps. Slipshod fielding and shaky slips catching cost them dearly in New Zealand. Unless the visitors improve in these departments, and in their running between wickets, they will come a cropper. The Australians are no world-beaters but they attend to the basics," Roebuck says.

Australia have a few headaches of their own. The batting has been fitful and the clock is ticking. Ricky Ponting's recovery is welcome and he will hope to end a mixed year (784 runs at 39.2) on a high note. Shane Watson can bat but is lucky to be playing. Certainly he deserved more than a flogging with a feather duster. His inability to acknowledge his mistake counts against him. It is not fit to scream in the face of any guest, let alone a distinguished visiting captain. Cricket Australia ought to call the players to account.

Peter Siddle's return ought to spark up the bowling. He brings zest to the attack. Doug Bollinger's place cannot have been in serious doubt - he's been the bowler of the summer. Nathan Hauritz held his spinning posting but his inability to attack on deteriorating decks counts against him. He's been around long enough to dictate terms. Steven Smith is a fine cricketer but a contentious standby. Australia are seeking youth. It's not a bad idea, Roebuck says. (ANI)

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