Maybe Pakistan were scared to play a spinner in A team: Josh Hazlewood
Mitchell Marsh made 162 out of Australia's 494/4 declared in Dubai. @ Getty

The decision by Pakistan to field an A team XI without a single specialist spinner in the four-day practice match with Australia in Dubai has left Josh Hazlewood wondering whether the home team were “scared” in the build-up to Sunday’s first Test.

Spin is expected to play a big role in the two-Test series between Pakistan and Australia in the UAE, with the legspinning duo of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan on one side and Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar and Jon Holland on the other. When the Pakistan Cricket Board named the A team to play the touring Australians at the ICC Academy in Dubai, the absence of a spinner was widely believed to be a tactic to deny Tim Paine’s side the chance to face spin.

However, with Australia’s Test squad including three specialist slow bowlers and part-time options in Travis Head and Marnus Labuschange, as well as a spin clinic led by former India allrounder S Sriram, Hazlewood has stressed that the tourists have no shortage of practicing against spin and that Pakistan A may have been “scared”.

“Maybe they’re a little bit on the shy, timid side by not playing a spinner and they’re trying to hide them obviously from us and go down that road,” Australia’s new vice-captain said on the latest episode of The Unplayable Podcast. “But I think if you were them, you’d play nearly your best spinners and try to bowl us out twice and create some doubt in our batsmen’s minds that way.

“They’re maybe a little bit scared, not trying to show us any spin but we’re going to face a lot of (spinners) in the nets. We’ve got spinners coming over from India with Sri and obviously (we’ve) got three spinners of our own. The guys are going to get enough in the nets and around training.”

Lyon, Australia’s most successful finger spinner in Tests, took eight of the ten Pakistan A wicket to fall in the first innings, which led Hazlewood to predict a successful series ahead.

“Even last summer during the Ashes he was unbelievable, really,” he said. “He bowled so many overs and didn’t go for runs and picked wickets. It’s a perfect foil for our three quicks, we can do our thing from one end and he does his job from the other. It’s great when he’s bowling well, (he provides) a really good balance for the team and subcontinent-wise he’s gone to another level.”