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Ajmal-less Pakistan seek to end 20-year Australia drought

Ajmal-less Pakistan seek to end 20-year Australia drought
Ajmal, who has been suspended due to an illegal bowling action, has single-handedly ruled the dry and slow tracks of Pakistan’s neutral venues in the UnitedArab Emirates, especially at Dubai where he has 37 wickets in six Tests, three of which Pakistan won.

That includes 24 wickets in a 3-0 rout of England in 2012. Pakistan have also lost frontline seamers Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz, both through knee injuries, and have to rely on uncapped legspinner Yasir Shah and two-Test left-armer Zulfiqar Babar, both of whom are likely to play.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq, under pressure to score runs after managing nought and 15 in the preceding 3-0 one-day series defeat, admitted Ajmal’s absence is significant. ‘Ajmal has left a big void. But we have youngsters who should grab the chance and I am confident they wil.’ said Misbah, who captains a team whose last Test series win over Australia was back in 1994.

The return of veteran batsman Younis Khan and Azhar Ali will boost Pakistan’s fragile batting as they seek to remain unbeaten in a Test series in UAE since they were forced to decamp in 2009 due to security fears in their country. Australia will also look to include both spinners in Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe despite their unimpressive record of losing five of the last six Tests (one draw) in which they played with two spinners. But they have dominated Pakistan, winning 13 out of the last 14 Tests against them. Australia will hope skipper Michael Clarke, top Test run getter in 2013 with 1,093, anchors the batting after recovering from a hamstring injury sustained two months ago.

Clarke failed to get much-needed practice in the 153-run defeat in the four-day tour game against Pakistan ‘A’ on Sunday, managing scores of just ten and five.

Clarke admitted Ajmal will be missed by Pakistan. ‘I think there is no doubt that Ajmal is an amazing bowler. I think obviously Pakistan wish they had him available for selection,’ said the Australian captain.
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