Australia 2009-10 January 4, 2010

Discipline and attack work for Pakistan

I think Pakistan have shocked Australia in the first two days here - in truth, they've shocked even their most ardent supporters

The man who holds the key to Pakistan's victory is Danish Kaneria © AFP

Pakistan should expect Australia to come back hard tomorrow. Ricky Ponting is an aggressive captain and he will believe his team can still win despite Pakistan's unexpected supremacy throughout this match. Mohammad Yousuf's team will need to be on their guard but must fight aggression with aggression, as taking wickets is the surest way to halt Australia's recovery.

I think Pakistan have shocked Australia in the first two days here - in truth, they've shocked even their most ardent supporters. First, a hastily flung together pace attack held an attacking but disciplined line and length. Discpline and attack were also on the agenda when the batsmen took their turn. Some of the shots might have been unnecessarily ambitious but the aggression of Pakistan's middle order was a refreshing sight.

The most accurate barometer of Pakistan's intent is usually their running betweenwickets. At Melbourne the batsmen were on their heels. Here they scampered and rushed through for quick singles. Yes, Pakistan could have secured a bigger lead but a more circumspect approach might well have surrendered as many wickets for fewer runs. The overall approach of the batsmen has been a sensible one: to unsettle Australia at every opportunity.

Now, Pakistan's bowlers and fielders face a stiffer challenge than in the first innings. The wicket is still helpful but less so than on the first day. Australia will have a much clearer target in mind and a determination not to lose to a humiliating innings defeat. The prospect of victory can be as tough to handle mentally as the danger of defeat.

Pakistan must hold their nerve and seek to bowl out Austalia on day three. Any sizeable fourth-innings run-chase has historically posed problems for Pakistan, and hence their target should be to dismiss Australia for under 300. That's certainly possible, provided the pace men revive the discipline and attack of the first day.

But the man who should hold the key to Pakistan's victory is Danish Kaneria. Nathan Hauritz produced a few viscously turning and bouncing deliveries that should have whet Kaneria's appetite. Like so many of his fellows, Kaneria has been short on match-winning performances against the strongest teams outside Asia. The stage has never been better set for Pakistan's late-blooming legspinner. Discpline and attack should be his watchwords too.

Pakistan cricket is in desperate need of this victory, against this opposition, and at this venue. Can Mohammad Yousuf's team pull off a momentous result?

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here