Dubai: Australia will have to improve in all areas from their performance against upstart Afghanistan if they want to beat Pakistan in the one-day international series that starts on Tuesday, batsman Mike Hussey said.
Australia are looking to regain the form that saw them dominate the one-day format until a recent slip. It was the top-ranked team until a 4-0 loss to England and other results dropped it to fourth in the ICC rankings — its lowest ever position.
While praising their performance against Afghanistan over the weekend, Hussey said on Monday his fellow batsmen will have to be ready for much better Pakistan bowlers as well as the batsmen who "will be a lot better at rotating good balls and getting off strike and using angles a lot better than" the Afghans. He also said the team has to be more aggressive when it comes to fielding.
"We have got to improve in a lot of areas — even in the field I thought we tried to conserve energy a little bit and not do little things that we always did like outfielders coming in and making sure it was a bit of a fortress with our throws coming and, if there was a ricochet, we were ready for it," Hussey said. "Maybe we were a little lazy in that respect."
Hussey also said it was also important Australia batsmen are not intimidated by Pakistan's spin bowlers. Famous for their spinners, Pakistan have included Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal in their squad.
"I'm not saying play carefree but I'm saying have that positive intent and trust our game," said Hussey, a former top-ranked ODI batsman and one of the team's senior players. "If you play defensively and tentatively, you are going to one, put the team under a lot of pressure by not scoring and rotating the strike. But two, you are going to give them a chance to get into their groove and then you will get a ball that will spin a bit and you will get out anyway.
"I prefer to be positive, confident and put pressure back on them a little bit without being reckless."
Hussey is making his return to the squad after pulling out of the England series following the premature birth of his fourth child. Upon his return, he said he found a team that was "extremely determined" rather than despondent over that defeat to England. He also showed he was ready to contribute by scoring 49 runs from 37 balls against Afghanistan in a knock that included three sixes.
That prompted talk of Hussey opening the batting should the tough conditions not suit Matthew Wade, who opened against Afghanistan.
"I'm open to it. It doesn't bother me," said Hussey, who is used to the humid conditions after playing in Chennai in the Indian Premier League.
"Whatever the team needs, I'd be more than happy to help out as long as I'm somewhere in that batting order," he said. "If (Wade) made 100 and had to go out and keep, I think initially that would be tough. He might need a break.
"Say if we were chasing and there were extremely hot conditions and he fielded the whole 50 overs and didn't feel he could 100 per cent concentrate on opening the innings for us, that is something we could look at. But he is a pretty fit guy, Wadey, and I think he plays that role pretty well."
Australia will play three ODIs against Pakistan starting from Tuesday followed by three T20 matches. The matches are being played in the United Arab Emirates because Pakistan cannot play at home due to security concerns.