Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has high hopes for Naseem Shah as the 16-year-old prepares to make his Test debut against Australia.

Azhar praised the seamer's technical abilities and mental strength after the teenager suffered a personal tragedy following the recent death of his mother.

Although Pakistan's line-up for the clash at the Gabba is yet to be revealed, Azhar confirmed Naseem would be involved and he has high hopes for the youngster.

"Not many players can be at that standard so early but there are exceptions and he is one of them," said the skipper ahead of the two-match series. 

"And hopefully – we are all looking forward to it – he can have a very successful career.

"When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had – and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

Naseem, who will become the youngest male Test debutant on Australian soil, played in a warm-up match in the aftermath of his mother's passing and Azhar paid credit to his courage.

"Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it very nicely and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening," he said.

"He is opening up a little bit. Obviously, when he came in to first-class cricket, he was a bit shy but now he is starting to enjoy it."

Pakistan have not won a Test match in Australia since 1995 and have never triumphed in a series there in the longest format. 

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has high hopes for Naseem Shah as the 16-year-old prepares to make his Test debut against Australia.

Azhar praised the seamer's technical abilities and mental strength after the teenager suffered a personal tragedy following the recent death of his mother.

Although Pakistan's line-up for the clash at the Gabba is yet to be revealed, Azhar confirmed Naseem would be involved and he has high hopes for the youngster.

"Not many players can be at that standard so early but there are exceptions and he is one of them," said the skipper ahead of the two-match series. 

"And hopefully – we are all looking forward to it – he can have a very successful career.

"When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had – and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

Naseem, who is will become the youngest male Test debutant on Australian soil, played in a warm-up match in the aftermath of his mother's passing and Azhar paid credit to his courage.

"Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it very nicely and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening," he said.

"He is opening up a little bit. Obviously, when he came in to first-class cricket, he was a bit shy but now he is starting to enjoy it."

Pakistan have not won a Test match in Australia since 1995 and have never triumphed in a series there in the longest format. 

Misbah-ul-Haq says Pakistan's pace attack must hit Steve Smith's "blind spot" if they are to prevent Australia's "batting genius" from piling on the runs in the two-match Test series.

Smith averaged an astonishing 110.57 in a drawn Ashes series in England on his return to the Test stage after serving a one-year ban for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

The former captain will be the prized scalp for Pakistan when they attempt to secure a first series win in Australia in the longest format.

Misbah wants to see his formidable fast bowlers frustrate the top-ranked Test batsman in the world when the series gets under way at the Gabba on Thursday.

The Pakistan head coach said: "As far as Steve Smith goes, there's a blind spot for every top batsman in the world; as a bowler you're always interested in pitching the ball there.

"It's important that we bowl with consistency there. Our bowlers are executing the plans very well right now, and hopefully we'll be able to build that kind of a pressure and stay disciplined, especially early in the innings.

"No matter how good a batsman is batting, it's about consistency and bowling the maximum balls in those areas that build pressure and the batsman respects you, and you force him to make a mistake.

"All the batsmen you talk to, any batsman in the world, that's the area where you have to defend a ball, and that is a six-to-eight-metre spot where you have to play the top of off stump.

"That's the area from where if it's happening then that creates a great chance. Even if it's not happening, you have less chances to do anything with the ball.

"It's about consistency, and top players in the world, if you miss those areas, that special length and line, then they are good enough to just cash in on that.

"You have to be very, very disciplined, just keep the ball there, and if it's happening you are already in the game."

The former Pakistan captain added:  "The kind of form he is in, there's no doubt Steve Smith is a batting genius. We will try our best to execute our plans and dismiss him."

 

Key Opta facts

- Pakistan have lost their last two multi-game bilateral Test series, they have not lost more consecutive series in the format since losing all three they competed in across 2007.

- Pat Cummins' tally of 87 Test wickets is more than any other bowler has taken since the start of 2018.

-  Australia are undefeated in their last 30 Tests at the Gabba - winning 23 of those matches. Their last defeat at the Brisbane venue was against West Indies in 1988.

Australia legend Shane Warne is "disappointed" to see James Pattinson miss the first Test against Pakistan through suspension but feels the team are in decent nick ahead of the series.

Paceman Pattinson was found guilty of a level two breach of Cricket Australia's code of conduct for abuse of an opposition player in the Sheffield Shield.

The incident, which occurred in Victoria's clash with Queensland in Melbourne, marked a third breach in 18 months, which triggered two suspension points and a one-match ban meaning he will miss the Brisbane Test that starts this week.

Warne, Australia's leading wicket taker in Test cricket, would have had Pattinson in his line-up.

"It's disappointing, I'd pencilled him in for the first Test," Warne told reporters. 

"I thought he was okay in the Ashes, not at his best, but he did a good job. I still think he's in our best three fast bowlers, though, when he's at his best.

"So, really disappointed to lose him before the Gabba, I think that would have suited him. [Josh] Hazlewood and [Pat] Cummins pick themselves, they're as good as anybody in the world those two, and then Pattinson I thought with Nathan Lyon is such a fantastic combination, there's so much variety and just relentless pressure with those three. 

"It's a huge loss. It probably means Mitchell Starc will play, he's in good form as well. It's great to have those competition for spots - because it's not easy you don't just pencil in 'this is who we've got', we've got choices.

"It's probably the first time in a while we've had choices with fast bowlers, first time we've got choices with batsmen - so I think Australian cricket is in pretty good shape, I thought they did well in England."

Australia are about to embark on a home summer having spent much of the year in England for the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes.

A run to the World Cup semi-finals was followed by the tourists retaining the urn in a drawn 2-2 series and Warne feels the side have decent form.

"I was disappointed to lose the last [group] game against South Africa in the World Cup, I reckon if we'd have beaten South Africa and ended up on top and played New Zealand it could have been a different World Cup," he added. 

"It would have been nice to win 3-1 in the Ashes, I thought we deserved to win that rather than 2-2, but a fantastic English summer for the Aussies, World Cup semi-final and retaining the urn was pretty good so they're in good form leading into first Test match."

On the make-up of the squad, Warne was surprised to see Cameron Bancroft selected after he made just 44 runs across two matches in the Ashes but was happy on the whole.

"I would have liked to see Marcus Harris included, I thought he deserved another chance, he's been in pretty good form," Warne said.

"Joe Burns, I like that selection. A little surprised with Cameron Bancroft being in the squad. Whether he gets the nod we'll have to wait and see, a little surprised after his form against England."

Steve Smith apologised to his Australia team-mates after being fined for dissent in the Sheffield Shield as captain Tim Paine reminded the squad of their responsibilities.

Ex-skipper Smith was hit with a 25 per cent fine of his match fee for his objection to being given out caught behind when representing New South Wales against Western Australia.

It was one of two high-profile reprimands in the latest round of fixtures, with paceman James Pattinson suspended for the first Test against Pakistan for using abusive language in Victoria's clash with Queensland.

Star batsman Smith admitted he must behave in a more appropriate manner out in the middle when dismissed.

"I came in and apologised to the group for getting a code of conduct," Smith said ahead of Australia's Test series with Pakistan. 

"I don't think there was a great deal in it but I've copped it and I have to look at when I get out and the way I conduct myself. 

"I know lots of kids watch me play and watch all of us play and the way we conduct ourselves when we get out as well as when we're batting.

"We have to be very mindful of that and sometimes just bite the bullet and just conduct ourselves in, I guess, a better manner at times. 

"Sometimes your emotions can get the better of you out on the field. We're playing a game [where] everyone is trying to do their best and sometimes that happens.

"We sign up to values and in our contracts we've got a code of conduct there we have to play by. I got pinged and so be it. I felt I should apologise for that."

Paine believes the incidents are a reminder to the whole squad to act appropriately, no matter who they are representing.

"I think it's more just a reminder that we've got to set those standards all the time," he said.

"Whether we're playing for Australia or we're playing club cricket or we're playing for our states or we're not playing cricket, there are standards we set ourselves to live by day in and day out so it's important we do that whether we're on the field off the field, regardless of who we're playing for.

"We've had a couple of instances this week but we always revisit them. We did again last night, just to brush up on what's expected and what we expect of the group. 

"Both of those guys apologised, they know that they fell a little bit short of what we set ourselves in the Test team. 

"And the fact that it's important that we maintain that when we go back to state cricket and lead the way there. 

"They're disappointed with that but we are going to keep on top of it and maintain the level that we've set so far in the last couple of years."

James Pattinson will miss Australia's first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba due to a suspension handed down by Cricket Australia (CA), it was announced on Sunday.

Australia and Victoria bowler Pattinson is ineligible for the series opener in Brisbane after being found guilty of a level two breach of CA's code of conduct for abuse of an opposition player in the Sheffield Shield.

The incident stems from Victoria's clash with Queensland in Melbourne and as it is Pattinson's third breach in the past 18 months, it triggered two suspension points and a subsequent one-match ban.

"I made a mistake in the heat of the moment," said Pattinson, who opted against contesting the charge. "Straight away I realised I was in the wrong, and I apologised immediately, both to the opponent and to the umpires.

"I have done the wrong thing and accept the penalty. I'm gutted to miss a Test match, but the standards are there for a reason and the fault is mine."

No replacement will be called into the Test squad for the Pakistan opener, which gets underway on Thursday.

"We have a duty to uphold the highest standards of behaviour and the action taken in this matter demonstrates that," CA's head of integrity and security Sean Carroll said. "On this occasion, James acknowledges he fell short of that expectation."

Australia captain Tim Paine told ABC Grandstand: "He knows that he's let himself down and let the group down. We hold ourselves to really high standards now with our behaviour ... so we're disappointed in that.

"James has owned up and he knows he's made a mistake. He's apologised for it and will come back bigger and better."

Sri Lanka will be the opponents for Pakistan's first Test series on home soil for a decade next month.

There has been no cricket in the longest format in Pakistan since a terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.

While there has been some limited-overs internationals in Pakistan, the ICC Champions Trophy holders have had to play home Tests in the United Arab Emirates due to concerns over security.

Sri Lanka recently travelled to Pakistan for white-ball contests and have now agreed to return for Tests at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium and Karachi's National Stadium - starting on December 11 and 19 respectively.

Zakir Khan, PCB director - international cricket, said: "This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world.

"We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB's efforts and drive for regular resumption of international cricket, and help in its endeavours of attracting new audiences and younger generation.

"Now that the itinerary has been confirmed, we will shift our focus on series preparations to ensure we deliver arrangements as per our very high standards.

"This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media."

Joe Burns has returned to a 14-man Australia squad at the expense of Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja for the two-Test series against Pakistan.

Queensland batsman Burns is expected to partner David Warner at the top of the order on his home surface when the series begins at the Gabba on November 21.

Burns, who was overlooked for the Ashes after battling post-viral fatigue, is back in the fold despite making 0 and 11 for Australia A in this week's tour match against Pakistan.

Cameron Bancroft compiled a defiant 49 in the first innings of that match and is set to compete with Burns for a recall.

National selector Trevor Hohns indicated Travis Head, one of two vice-captains, would likely regain his spot in the playing side.

The 25-year-old South Australian was dropped for the final Ashes Test, but Will Pucovski's withdrawal from consideration for mental health reasons left selectors with few genuine middle-order options.

"Travis has immense experience as a young leader for his state," Hohns said on Thursday.

"He's certainly been in the mix, [firstly] to play, and we also like the way he goes about his business when he's around the team and the leadership skills he has to offer."

Left-handers Harris and Khawaja will not be involved in Brisbane or in the second Test in Adelaide, which starts on November 29.

Uncapped seamer Michael Neser is one of five pace bowling options in the squad alongside Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith has been fined 25 per cent of his Sheffield Shield match fee after pleading guilty to the charge of showing dissent at an umpire's decision.

The world's top-ranked Test batsman showed visible frustration after being judged caught behind for 103 in the first innings of New South Wales' match against Western Australia.

 

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

Will Pucovski has pulled out of contention to be selected for Australia's Test squad against Pakistan to focus on his mental health.

The 21-year-old Australian batsman had been in line to push for the 14-man side, which will be named on Thursday ahead of the two-Test series starting November 21.

Pucovski has made a strong start in the Sheffield Shield, scoring 123 runs for Victoria against South Australia, while also impressing on tour with Australia A in England earlier in 2019.

He was also selected for an Australia A side that took on Pakistan in a three-day tour match in Perth this week. 

Having previously taken two breaks to deal with his mental wellbeing, Pucovski informed Australia's management that he was struggling during Tuesday's evening session, as his side collapsed in their first innings.

"We applaud Will for having the courage to discuss his situation with team management in Perth," Cricket Australia's manager of national teams Ben Oliver said in a statement.

"Will's decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports.

"Mental health is a complex issue that unfortunately impacts many young men and women in our society. By Will bravely taking this position, he will undoubtedly inspire others facing similar challenges to speak up and take positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing.

"The most important thing now is for Will to be given the time, space and expert support that he needs to return to full health as soon as possible. I speak on behalf of everyone in Australian cricket when I say we wish Will the very best in his recovery."

Pucovski's decision comes on the back of Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell confirming he is taking time off to address "difficulties" relating to his mental wellbeing.

Misbah-ul-Haq has backed spinner Yasir Shah to have a big impact for his Pakistan side as they prepare to take on Australia in an upcoming two-match Test series.

The Pakistan side have undergone a revamp following a frustrating 2019, with Azhar Ali replacing Sarfraz Ahmed as Test captain, while Misbah has been appointed as both coach and chief selector.

Australia provide Pakistan's first opponents in the longest format since this overhaul, with matches set for Brisbane and Adelaide later this month.

Yasir was one of the players involved when Pakistan last toured against Australia in 2016-17, as the visitors succumbed to a 3-0 series whitewash.

And Misbah claims the experience from three years ago means Yasir, who took 1-24 from Australia A's brief first innings in this week's warm-up match, is well placed to spearhead Pakistan's bowling attack this time around.

"Our young fast bowlers and spinner Yasir Shah are our biggest positives," the coach told a news conference. "[Yasir] is aware of Australian conditions and he also had better preparation playing domestic cricket at home.

"He bowled lengthy spells there and he knows exactly what was missing during his previous tour here. So I am hoping that our preparations are better than before.

"It's important for us to take 20 wickets because you can't win without it. I feel our batting line-up is capable enough to put up 400 to 450 runs on the board, so it also helps our bowlers along the way."

Pakistan lost 2-0 in the sides' Twenty20 International series that ended last week, but Misbah believes the introduction of several fresh faces has given the tourists cause for optimism.

"Overall, when you try out different options and search for solutions, you have go through all of that," Misbah said.

"Obviously, when you are settled, you get the results. But if you want to improve a few things, you should also think about the future for back-ups.

"If you need to try new players, you need to look past that [the loss]. Obviously, we were looking to win those games. But we were looking far ahead by giving a few players the experience they need.

"There are a lot of positives for us, and this is definitely going to help Pakistan in the future."

Cameron Bancroft dug in after his fellow Test hopefuls failed miserably with the bat on day two of the tour match between Pakistan and Australia A.

Joe Burns was bowled for a golden duck by the excellent Imran Khan (5-32) before Marcus Harris (16), Travis Head (13), Usman Khawaja (6), and Will Pucovski (5) also fell cheaply.

Bancroft made a patient 49 after coming in at number six, putting on 65 with Riley Meredith (19 not out) for the last wicket to get Australia's second string up to 122 from a shambolic 57-9.

Veteran seamer Khan was the star of the show as Pakistan dominated the penultimate day of the pink ball contest at Perth Stadium, closing on 7-0 with a lead of 313.

The tourists were a bowler down after 16-year-old Naseem Shah was withdrawn following the death of his mother.

Australia and Pakistan start the two-match Test series at the Gabba on November 21.

Australia fast bowler James Pattinson plans to make back-to-back Test matches the next milestone in his return to international cricket.

The injury-ravaged Victorian ended a three-year absence from the top level with two appearances in the recent Ashes series in England.

Pattinson was forced to undergo spinal surgery to correct a career-threatening back problem in 2017 and selectors have been careful with his reintegration.

He took two wickets in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston and then claimed another three in the third Test in Leeds, with a rest in between.

"The next process for me now, if I do get the chance in the Test arena, is to play more back-to-back cricket," Pattinson told reporters.

"I've been injury-free for the best part of a year now. The body is feeling good. Hopefully that's the next progression, if I do get a chance in the Test team."

He continued: "I think the more cricket you play, the more comfortable you feel in terms of your body and how the ball is coming out.

"You see the batters around and they're playing all the time and they get into a rhythm. As a bowler, it's hard sometimes when you're stopping and going and stopping and going.

"Hopefully the next step of the process is playing some consistent cricket."

Australia are set to play five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand over the next two months, giving Pattinson the chance to push for consecutive matches.

But the 29-year-old faces strong competition simply to win selection, with Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser also challenging Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc for places.

"We've got a lot of fast bowlers up at the moment, which is great for Australian cricket," Pattinson said.

"All anyone can do is go out there and do their best for the team they're playing in."

Sean Abbott described his Australia return as "a privilege" after he earned the man-of-the-match award in his first international appearance for five years.

The fast bowler, 27, had not played for his country since a Twenty20 against South Africa in Sydney on November 9, 2014, but was back to face Pakistan in Perth on Friday.

Abbott was only hit for two boundaries as his figures of 2-14 from four overs helped Australia to restrict Pakistan to 106-8 in the third T20I. 

Captain Aaron Finch (52 not out) and David Warner (48 not out) then led Australia to a 10-wicket triumph, sealing a 2-0 win in the three-match series.

"It's been a privilege to be part of this side," Abbott said of his return. "It's awesome to be back out here.

"A lot of hard work has gone into it, but there's a lot of talent in this country.

"The guys have been playing really well and they've welcomed me back in the group. Very pleased."

Australia have a rating of 269 in the T20I rankings and are just one behind leaders Pakistan.

They have won series against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2019 without losing a match, putting them in a strong position ahead of hosting next year's T20 World Cup.

Finch said: "Really proud of my boys. The way we've applied ourselves over the last couple of weeks has been really impressive. We're improving as a team and that's the most important thing. 

"The way Ashton Agar bowled in these two series was amazing. He was outstanding, alongside Adam Zampa and they were bowling against quality players of spin. The quicks in the powerplay were outstanding, too. Mitchell Starc in general and Abbott in this game.

"It's pleasing one of our top three batted really deep throughout the two series and we can only kick on from here."

Pakistan, by contrast, are on a miserable run. They have lost 2-1 to South Africa, 1-0 to England, 3-0 to Sri Lanka and now struggled against the Aussies in their last four series in the shortest format.

"I am very disappointed, but we lost to a very good team," said captain Babar Azam.

"We've learnt a lot and we want to make sure we don't make the same mistakes again. As captain, I learnt a lot personally too, but there's a long way to go. 

"[Muhammad] Musa and [Mohammad] Hasnain were bowling well, but Finch and Warner were just in a different class. We wanted to blood them and I'm sure the experience will be good for them in future."

Australia and Pakistan will now prepare for two Test matches, the first coming in Brisbane on November 21.

Aaron Finch hit an unbeaten fifty as Australia stormed to a 10-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international, sealing a 2-0 triumph in the three-match series.

After weather impacted the first match, Steve Smith inspired Australia to victory in Canberra and Friday's match in Perth also went the way of the hosts in comprehensive fashion.

Captain Finch opted to bowl after winning the toss on a lively pitch and was rewarded when Pakistan struggled to 106-8, Kane Richardson recording the best figures as he took 3-18.

Openers Finch (52 not out) and David Warner (48no) reached the target themselves in only 11.5 overs.

Australia's win cuts Pakistan's lead at the top of the world rankings to just one point.

Mitchell Starc got Australia off to a flying start, taking the key wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam (6), which was upheld after the batsman reviewed, before bowling wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan for a golden duck.

Pakistan were in a hole at 22-3 when man of the match Sean Abbott (2-14) – playing his first international in five years – got rid of Imam-ul-Haq (14).

Iftikhar Ahmed was the only man to offer meaningful resistance as he hit 45 from 37 balls, but wickets tumbled around him, including that of debutant Khushdil Shah (8), who fell to Richardson.

When Richardson removed Iftikhar as Starc caught him at fine leg, the tourists' total was only 92 with 23 deliveries left, the tail left to bat out the innings.

Australia's reply got off to an eventful start, with David Warner's six from the third ball only just beating third man before Imam missed a glorious run-out opportunity.

The openers were in control from there, though, Finch's total coming from just 36 balls with three maximums, and Warner ending just short of a half century himself after hitting six boundaries in a 35-ball knock.

Pakistan's other debutant, Muhammad Musa, came in for punishment with figures of 0-39 from his 3.5 overs.

The teams will now turn their attention to two Test matches, the first of which starts in Brisbane on November 21.

Pat Cummins will skip Australia's third and final Twenty20 against Pakistan with a view to being fresh for the first Test at the Gabba.

The star spearhead is remaining behind in Sydney as Australia travel to Perth for Friday's decider after taking a 1-0 series lead thanks to their commanding seven-wicket win on Tuesday.

Cummins claimed 1-19 from his four overs in Canberra but Australia are wary of adding to his heavy recent workload.

The world's top-ranked Test bowler played every match of Australia's Cricket World Cup and Ashes campaigns from June to September.

Australia head coach Justin Langer said: "We've got so much cricket on, he plays a lot of it, so when you get a little opportunity rather than taking the long flight to Perth [you take it]. He's going to stay here, recover and get prepared for the Test series."

Australia and Pakistan will have just under two weeks to warm up for the first of their two five-day fixtures following Friday's meeting at Optus Stadium.

Cummins could still take part in New South Wales' next four-day Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia, which begins on Monday.

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