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March 22, 2014
The influence of spin in Sunday's contest between Pakistan and Australia is on everyone's lips. Moin Khan, the Pakistan coach, has expressed confidence in his team's spinners while Australia captain George Bailey has conceded it's going to be a challenge for their batsmen.
Saeed Ajmal has the most wickets for a spinner against Australia. Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez have done well in the past and Zulfiqar Babar is also likely to get a look in if Pakistan think of playing three specialist spinners.
"Well, they can be [susceptible against spin], but of course they've been playing really good cricket for a very long time," Moin said. "But I still believe in my spinners. I think we're capable to get them.
"We have lots of options in the team. We didn't bowl Shoaib Malik [against India], but we've got the option there. We have good spinners with us, so we'll see. It depends on the type of pitch we get in the next match. So we'll definitely do according to the opposition."
Bailey is well aware of the threat, and wants his batsmen to stand up to the challenge of playing in conditions suitable and familiar to their opposition.
"We went through the Pakistan team in our meeting last night, and there are so many match-winners," he said. "I think historically we have struggled against their spinners. If we are to win, we have to play their spinners well.
"I think we have seen most of them now, in different times. What you do is talk about experiences from the past and try to make it better. They have three spinners among the top ten in T20s so they are a very strong spin side. The conditions can be challenging for us, but we have a strong batting line-up that can overcome that."
Brad Hodge is the only player from the current squad who has played in Bangladesh in the last year or so and the team took to television footage to arm themselves for the upcoming battle. They watched Pakistan's opening match in the World T20 and noted how India's Amit Mishra used a bit of drift and dip to restrict and dupe the batsmen, and how Ajmal maintained accuracy while bowling quicker.
"I think most of the guys watched it in the hotel last night," Bailey said. "It was a great chance to see how India and Pakistan played. There was a lot of information to be gathered. Most guys took the opportunity."
"Hodge has been great for us. He has given us a lot of information on how the wicket might play here and how it changes from day to night; also about players that we haven't seen."
Bailey would bank on the team's variety, particularly in their own bowling attack. Australia have called up, 43-year old left-arm chinaman Brad Hogg, who will be assisted by legspinner James Muirhead and part-timer Glenn Maxwell.
"I think we have a little more versatility, in terms of what we can do with the ball," Bailey said. "I think we have a little more power with the bat. These are the two differences [between this squad and the one that played in the 2012 World T20s]."
Moin would like to see Pakistan, already one-down in the tournament, to fight harder against an upbeat Australian side. "We've already lost one match but I still believe in the abilities of my team. We have to come back really hard and go do something resilient, otherwise it's definitely going to be a very difficult match because their attitude is very good. We have to fight it out."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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