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Aussies fit for Pakistan Test

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Australia’s three players under minor fitness clouds have all trained strongly ahead of Wednesday’s first cricket Test against Pakistan in Dubai.

Skipper Michael Clarke and uncapped allrounder Mitchell Marsh both came to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month with hamstring injuries.

But they played in last week’s four-day game against Pakistan A without any concerns and completed full training with the team on Monday in a centre-wicket net session.

Opening batsman David Warner skipped the four-day game because of a groin strain but he’s also ready to play, pace bowler Peter Siddle says.

“Mitch Marsh got through seven overs in the second innings and got a good hit out in the middle as well,” Siddle said.

“So it was good to see him out there.

“It’s nice to see everyone fit and strong going into the series.

“I don’t see any niggles out there.”

Siddle, who successfully targeted England star Kevin Pietersen in the past, has his eyes set on Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

“There are few older blokes in the middle, Younis Khan and the captain Misbah,” Siddle said.

“They are going to be tough ones out there and they are experienced guys and will hold the ship together in the middle and throughout the innings.

“We always want to put pressure on the captain and they are the players we are looking to get on top of and that will give confidence to everyone else as well.”

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis returned fire, saying some of Australia’s weaknesses were exposed in their loss to Pakistan A on the weekend and he plans to exploit them in the first Test.

Australia were bowled out for 185 in their second innings of the four-day game in Sharjah on Saturday as Pakistan A claimed victory by 153 runs.

However Australia did rest key batsmen Steve Smith and Alex Doolan from their second innings after scores of 58 retired and 104 retired respectively in the first innings.

“It was good to see the youngsters doing well,” Waqar said on Monday.

“It definitely has given us edge or a boost going into the Test series.

“We have seen some weaknesses which can be good for us in the Test matches.”

While Waqar wasn’t keen to elaborate, he hinted it was a batting issue rather than a weakness in Australia’s bowling.

“We have definitely seen some weaknesses. I’m not going to tell you here,” he said.

“We’re working on it and hopefully we’ll deliver the goods.”

Australia’s loss in the four-day game was their first on tour, having won the one-off Twenty20 clash and swept the one-day series three-nil.

“They know how to bat on these pitches,” Waqar said.

“They know how to play. But we have our own plan and hopefully we’ll put it together.”

Waqar said he was unaware how the Dubai pitch would play.

The Pakistan board is in charge of the pitch preparation.

It’s expected the home side will seek a dry, turning pitch to suit their attack which could feature two frontline spinners plus spin-bowling allrounder Mohammad Hafeez.

“We normally play two spinners here,” Waqar said.

“Spin will be the order of the day, for me at least.

“If you look at the history here in Dubai, the wicket has always spun.

“It’s not that we wanted this one or that one.”

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