Peter Siddle says Australia will focus on how to nullify the threat posed by leg-spinners Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan in the forthcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.
“Spin bowling in this series is going to play a massive part,” Siddle told reporters on Tuesday. “He (Yasir) bowled well against us last series over here. He took a lot of wickets, so I think it’s going to be the No.1 plan to keep him out.”
Yasir has not played Test cricket since October 2017 but he was a thorn in the Australia side that visited the UAE four years ago, picking up 12 wickets in his debut series to lead a clean sweep over a strong Australian side led by Michael Clarke.
Siddle, a survivor of that touring party, also underlined the threat of youngster Shadab, who, along with Yasir, has previously played in Australia for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash.
“I think the big focus is they’ve got two star leg-spinners – Yasir Shah, who we’ve played before, a great player, and Shadab Khan, who’s been playing and we expect to line up,” he said.
Australia’s preparations for tackling the threat of spin have been boosted with the guidance of consultant Sridharan Sriram, the former Indian left-arm off-spinner who was key in aiding Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon during the tour of India last year.
Sriram has brought along two spinners from India to test the Australian batsmen in the nets – left-arm spinner K K Jiyas and wrist-spinner Pardeep Sahu.
“I think in the past we’ve come into series, worked hard on spin but not specifically on what they’re bowling, the deliveries they bowl and the cues to watch as a batter,” added Siddle. “We’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of guys come in that are very good spin bowlers.”
The UAE tour offers Siddle the chance to don the Baggy Green for the first time since November 2016. Only Nathan Lyon possesses more Test caps than Siddle in the squad, and the Victorian seamer will look to use his experience to tackle the tough conditions.
“I’ve played in the subcontinent a lot and it’s just about talking about those experiences,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of knowledge from them and hopefully I can pass a bit of that to these guys and watch them go forward.
“I think these days the boys have played a lot in the subcontinent, even the younger guys, so they’ve been exposed to those conditions, which is exciting.”
Renowned for his workhorse approach, Siddle will not look to make too many changes to the methods that have brought him 211 wickets from 62 Tests.
“I don’t think my plan changes a hell of a lot from different conditions,” the fast bowler said. “But probably more so here it’s about hitting the stumps, making them play a lot more and having the fielders in the right positions.”
Australia’s tour will commence with a warm-up match against Pakistan A at the ICC Academy, with the Test series beginning on October 7.