Michael Clarke has defended Australia's reputation against spin after Shahid Afridi's career-best figures gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the five-game one-day series. Australia tumbled from 95 for 1 in the 19th over to 168 all out, a total Pakistan overhauled with four wickets in hand.
Afridi picked up 6 for 38 while the offspinner Saeed Ajmal captured 2 for 19 from his 10 overs. Clarke, who fell to Saeed for 4, called on his batsmen to be more disciplined in Friday's second game in Dubai.
"I certainly don't think we have a weakness against spin but we haven't been performing as well as we would have liked against them," Clarke told AAP. "Whether we like it or not we are going to be facing a lot of it so we have to practice hard against it and probably have to be a little more disciplined, especially on a wicket that is spinning."
Only four players reached double figures and Australia relied on an unbeaten 48 from James Hopes to extend the innings to 38.5 overs. "Again our middle order, four to six, didn't perform as well as we would have liked," Clarke said. "Full credit has to go to the Pakistan bowlers, especially the spinners, I thought they did a fantastic job and put us under pressure, got wickets at vital times. So we've got some work to do in the nets in preparation for Friday's game."
Younis Khan, the Pakistan captain, expects Australia, the No. 2 team in the world, to hit back quickly, but also predicted his side would improve. "Sometimes you miss that experience, especially in batting, because we are not playing one-day international games in the last couple of months," he said. "So that's why we struggled a little in the batting, but I think we will get better."
Pakistan have also been hurt by Afridi's poor batting form - he has only one half-century in nearly two years, and the allrounder said he was focusing on a return to form with the bat. "My fans like me for my batting," he told AFP. "I would love to score more runs because this is my trademark and people want me to hit more fours and sixes."
That would also add to Australia's problems, which included an injured hamstring for the opener Shaun Marsh, who had returned from a long lay-off for a similar complaint. Marsh scored 16 before being run out and will be examined again on Thursday.