ISLAMABAD: When Australia begins their first Test in Pakistan in 24 years on Friday, they will encounter unfamiliar surroundings, intense security, and unexpected, but capable, opponents.

The Australians have had little time to acclimate to surroundings in Rawalpindi, where the first Test will be played, after arriving in Islamabad just three days ago and being immediately surrounded by “head of state-level security.”

However, they may appreciate what they see when they practise, with a surface that is frequently more favourable to seam bowling than the more normal spinners’ wickets prevalent throughout Pakistan.

Fast bowlers have taken 52 wickets in three Tests played in Rawalpindi since Pakistan was allowed to host matches again in 2019, ten years after the deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore. Spinners have only taken 21 wickets in three Tests played in Rawalpindi since Pakistan was allowed to host matches again in 2019.

Australia skipper Pat Cummins, who led his team to a 4-0 Ashes thrashing of England in his debut series as captain, said that it would be all new to his teammates.

“You know most of the foreign players — and conditions — but this series has a few more unknowns than usual, so it’s going to be intriguing and hard,” Cummins said.

“I am a firm believer in ensuring that our own game is in order. We must believe that we have been in excellent form since the Ashes and focus on it rather than the opponent.”

Some of Pakistan’s players will be unfamiliar to the Australian.

Spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan have been brought in to replace leg-spinner Yasir Shah and fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, who both played in Pakistan’s 1-0 triumph over Australia in the UAE in 2018.

“I believe one thing about the Pakistan squad is that they have some young players that come in and shine right away, so it’s a different challenge,” Cummins said.

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