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‘I’m Confident That…,’ Saud Shakeel Backs 'World Class' Babar to Score Big In Boxing Day Test

image-lqf152poSaud Shakeel walking back after being dismissed by Josh Hazlewood. (AP)

Ahead of the second Test between Australia and Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on December 26, Pakistan's middle-order batter Saud Shakeel shared his insights, emphasizing the team's determination to rectify mistakes from the first Test in Perth 

Having made his Test debut in December 2022, Saud acknowledged his modest contributions in the first outing in Australia, scoring 28 and 24. However, he said that the team is in a positive mindset, drawing parallels between the MCG pitch and conditions in Pakistan.

"Melbourne’s pitch reminds us of Pakistan. Our batters are feeling positive and we are confident that we will not repeat the same mistakes,"  Saud Shakeel told reporters on Thursday.

Reflecting on Pakistan's struggles in Perth, particularly in the bowling department, Saud highlighted the team's resolve to avoid a repeat performance. He noted the excessive runs conceded in the first innings and the subsequent loss, underscoring the need for improved bowling efficiency in the upcoming Melbourne Test. 

"We couldn’t do well with the bowl in Perth, we conceded too many runs in the first innings, and we lost the match there," Saud added.

Saud Gutted for Shahzad

Khurram Shahzad has been ruled out of the series due to an unfortunate injury. Saud extended sympathy and suggested alternative bowlers, Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali, as possible replacements with the potential to do well in Melbourne. 

"He bowled really well, he had a big job coming here. I'm really sad for him that he got injured. That's part of the game. We have a couple of other bowlers as well – Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali – and they can get good wickets in this Melbourne Test,"  he added.

Discussing Babar's recent struggle with the bat, Saud has backed his teammate to stage a comeback with a big score in the upcoming Test. The southpaw is of the opinion that Babar, who registered low scores in both innings of the Perth Test, possesses the skill to play a significant innings and is confident of a strong showing in Melbourne.

“Babar Azam is a world-class batter, he can make a comeback just with one innings. I’m confident that he will play a great knock in Melbourne,"  Saud further stated.

Pakistan suffered a big defeat in the first Test against Australia, collapsing to 89 in the fourth innings while chasing a formidable target of 450. 

The visitors were dismissed for 271 in their first innings in response to Australia's 487. Additionally, Pakistan incurred a penalty for maintaining a slow over-rate in Perth, resulting in a fine equivalent to 10% of their match fee and a deduction of two ICC World Test Championship points.

Ahead of the MCG Test, Pakistan is scheduled to engage in a two-day practice match against Victoria on December 22-23. The second Test of the three-match eries is slated to be played between December 26-30 at the MCG.