Pakistan arrange a two-day practice game before second Test


Pakistan will play a two-day practice game against Victoria XI ahead of the second Test. The match will be played at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on December 22 and 23.

This game wasn’t part of the original schedule, but concerns around lack of match practice led to Pakistan requesting Cricket Australia for a match. The fixture was confirmed shortly before the visitors slumped to a 360-run defeat on the fourth day of the first Test in Perth.

“That [the Victoria tour game] was something extra we added into the schedule because it wasn’t there earlier,” Pakistan head coach Mohammad Hafeez said after the Test. “We wanted to have more practice rather than only one practice game. That had first-class status, so we couldn’t give all the bowlers the chance to have a feel. That’s the reason we wanted to have this practice game, so more guys could get a feel of a match scenario; we felt that would work well. We will definitely plan accordingly. All the players should use those two days to make themselves more familiar with the situations and the conditions.”

The Victoria XI will include Marcus Harris, one of the leading contenders to replace David Warner after his retirement at the end of this series, as well as 25-year-old Will Pucovski. Peter Handscomb will lead the side, which has been cobbled together from players not currently involved in the Big Bash League.

The tour arrangements have been a matter of contention for Pakistan, with Hafeez lambasting the pitch for Pakistan’s game against the Prime Minister’s XI. Weather conditions were chiefly responsible for the placid nature of that wicket, but if Pakistan are expecting a more lively surface at the Junction Oval, they will be disappointed. The Oval is among the flattest wickets in Australia, with conditions highly unlikely to replicate anything the MCG will throw up.

Hafeez was still optimistic. “The conditions we get fall under Cricket Australia’s domain,” he said. “We have requested similar conditions to the Test match so that our players can take advantage of these conditions. This game was not part of the tour but I wanted our players to have match-scenario style practice. We’re grateful to CA for accepting our request and providing this facility. We will try to learn from this in the most effective possible way.”

The second Test begins on December 26.

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