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All eyes will be on paceman Mitchell Starc when Australia train in Abu Dhabi ahead of the series-deciding second Test against Pakistan.
Australia’s selectors face a dilemma for the second Test against Pakistan as they weigh up whether to rest pace spearhead Mitchell Starc.
The decision on whether to play Starc in Abu Dhabi looms as the only major selection headache for the series-decider starting on Tuesday.
Australia will train on Sunday with Starc and Peter Siddle set to be put through their paces along with back-up quicks Michael Neser and Brendan Doggett.
Starc struggled to make an impact on a flat deck in Dubai, grinding in hot conditions to take 1-90 in the first innings and bowling just six overs in the second for figures of 0-18.
The left-armer was unable to replicate the reverse swing generated by Pakistan paceman Mohammad Abbas who claimed seven wickets for the match.
Australia’s determination to win a Test series in Asia for the first time since 2011 is likely to swing selectors towards backing in Starc.
But they will also be wary of preserving the gun quick, who has been named in the squad for three T20s against Pakistan later this month before Tests against India in the home summer and next year’s World Cup and Ashes tour.
“It’s a good question. It’s always managing those quicks,” coach Justin Langer said.
“Starcy bowled a lot of overs first innings, we certainly understand that and it’s always the million dollar question: what do we do with the fast bowlers?
“Because if we’ve got our fast bowlers, particularly in Australia or going forward to England next year … the top three is incredibly important to Australia being successful.
“We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully we’ll manage them well throughout the summer and this tour so far.”
Australia’s stunning day five fightback to secure a draw in Dubai has increased the likelihood that the same XI will be retained in Abu Dhabi.
Marnus Labuschagne failed with the bat in his maiden Test but is almost certain to get another chance after taking wickets with his part-time legspin and impressing in the field.
Fellow debutants Aaron Finch and Travis Head both made crucial knocks to ensure they will keep their spots.
Jon Holland also delivered an improved performance in the second innings and is likely to again edge out fellow left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.