Alam happy with UAE venues
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam has said he is satisfied with the venues in the UAE. Alam, 67, who visited the two venues, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, told the News that he was confident that the wickets would help produce high-quality contests during the five ODIs and one Twenty20 international against Australia.
"The wickets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been prepared keeping in mind our own strengths," said Alam. "We want to retain some kind of home advantage. We expect them to be batting wickets but sporting ones that are suitable for one-day cricket. We saw a few local matches being played on those wickets and they look very good. The overall conditions there are excellent. The Dubai stadium in fact, can be compared with the best sports facilities in the world."
Alam pointed out that Australia, who will be landing in Dubai on April 17 after having played on bouncy tracks at home and in South Africa, might face problems adjusting to the conditions in the UAE. "The pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will not be as much bouncy as the ones in South Africa and it will be interesting how the Australians adjust to the conditions there," he said.
While Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Mitchell Johnson have been rested for the series, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson and Brett Lee will be looking to make the most on their return to the national fold. Despite the absence of the big names, Alam said Australia would remain a very strong team. "The Australians are very professional and they have enough bench strength to overcome the absence of any player," he said.
Alam was also pleased with the return of Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, back after clearing a series of extensive fitness tests last week. "A fit Shoaib Akhtar is a great addition to our team," Alam said. "He adds more firepower to our bowling attack and I'm happy that he is back," he added.
Following security concerns from teams over playing in Pakistan, the PCB has been forced to shift series overseas. Pakistan though, will be confident of performing well away, as shown in the 3-0 ODI series whitewash of West Indies back in November last year. While Dubai will host the first two ODIs and the final game of the series, the Twenty20 international, Abu Dhabi will stage the remaining matches.