Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has called playing in Pakistan one of the most memorable experiences of his career. The 40-year-old represented Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Australia will travel to Pakistan for the first time in 24 years on an all-format tour. The two teams will meet for the first time since the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final in the United Arab Emirates.
Watson has reserved praise for Cricket Australia for its role in ensuring good safety protocols and passing on safety to players as well. In an interview with the ICC, he said:
“I had the chance to play some Pakistan Super League games there and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life.
“It’s great that Cricket Australia has gone to great lengths to ensure they have all the information they need to ensure players’ minds are at ease when it comes to safety. , so it will be a brilliant series.”
Australia come in after a 4-1 T20I series win over Sri Lanka. Despite their impressive form, their record in the subcontinent, especially lately, is far from the best.
The hosts, on the other hand, have struggled to bring cricket back to their country. New Zealand and England postponed their respective tours of the Asian country due to security concerns last year.
Watson noted how much Pakistan’s passionate crowd will relish the opportunity to watch his side play Australia on their home soil. He said:
“I am super excited as I know how hungry Pakistanis are for cricket. They are so obsessed with cricket and love nothing more than watching Pakistan play and especially live cricket at home.”
Pakistan has hosted countries like South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies over the past two years. The nation is also set to host the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.
“My gut tells me Australia are going to win the series” – Shane Watson
Australia are on the prowl to advance to the World Test Championship final after missing out last time out. They will face another formidable contender in the form of Pakistan, who have also found their groove in the longer format.
Although there isn’t much to separate the two sides, given the terms, Watson believes Australia will come out on top. He said:
“I would be surprised if Australia didn’t stand up, just knowing the Aussie bowlers and how well they played (against England) during the Ashes.
“It was fast and relentless bowling on all levels and everyone complemented each other really well and Pakistan are going to have to come out of their skin just to stay in the game.”
“My gut tells me Australia will win the series if they score enough runs because I think their bowlers will be good enough to put the Pakistani batters under a lot of pressure.”
Believing the ball is not spinning much on the wickets in Pakistan, Watson expects the fast bowlers to step up. He concluded :
“It’s going to be great to see so many world class fast bowlers like Shaheen Afridi and the Australian fast bowlers and how they are able to attack on such wickets. But one of my favorites is Babar Azam , how beautiful is he to look at, like Rohit Sharma, everything he does is effortless.”
Australia’s tour of Pakistan will begin with the first test in Rawalpindi on March 4. The two teams will contest three Tests, three ODIs and a T20I.