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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 16:47 UK

Shahid Afridi hopes to unite Pakistan against Australia

First Test: Pakistan v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 13 July, 1030 BST Venue: Lord's, London Coverage: Live ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave and BBC Sport website; also live on Sky Sports

Pakistan's Mohammad Asif, Danish Kaneria, Tanvir Ahmed and Shahid Afridi
Afridi, right, says his is a happy camp ahead of the Australia series

Captain Shahid Afridi has vowed to heal the rifts in the Pakistan dressing room and help them avenge their ill-fated trip to Australia earlier this year.

Pakistan's tour ended in a 3-0 Test whitewash and with bans for four players - including Younus Khan - amid reports of dressing room unrest.

"The guys are united," said Afridi ahead of the start of the first Test against Australia at Lord's on Tuesday.

"Now that we have regained our winning habit, we must work to maintain it."

The fall-out from Pakistan's disastrous tour of Australia, during which they failed to win a single international match, meant a youthful squad arrived in England in June without its two leading Test batsmen in former captains Mohammad Yousuf and Younus, who both had disciplinary action taken against them by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

But the way Pakistan beat Australia in back-to-back Twenty20s at Edgbaston last week, has suggested that they can cause problems in the two-match series - which precedes four Tests and a one-day series against England.


A bowling attack featuring Umar Gul and teenage left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer is set to be bolstered by leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and paceman Mohammad Asif.

And Afridi is hoping his team can build on their bowling unit with the bat, despite the absence of Younus and Yousuf.

"Obviously we will miss their [Younus and Yousuf] experience," said Afridi, who himself has not played Test cricket since 2006 in order to concentrate on one-day formats.

"But right now I am focusing completely on the team I have. They are the ones who will fight for Pakistan in the Test matches and I retain confidence they can do this."

In the absence of Yousuf and Younus, who both average over 50 in Tests, the only member of the Pakistan top six to average more than 40 is the gifted Umar Akmal - and he has played only six Tests.

And Australia batsman Mike Hussey has stressed his side can target that inexperience, telling reporters: "I think their depth is going to be tested.

I think their depth is going to be tested. Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf are... going to be a big loss, particularly in the Test match arena

Mike Hussey

"You take Younus and Yousuf out of that team and you're losing two outstanding, classy players.

"That's going to be a big loss, particularly in the Test match arena.

"It's going to be very hard to find those runs that those guys consistently score in Test match cricket.

"But their bowling attack looks outstanding. They're very well balanced and they cover all bases very well."

It is a landmark series as it will be the first time overseas nations will have played each other in Tests in England since the 1912 triangular tournament involving England, Australia and South Africa.

Australia look likely to feature a number of changes to their usual Test XI, with wicketkeeper Tim Paine, deputising for the injured Brad Haddin, and leg-spinner Steven Smith likely to make their Test debuts.

One selection certain to be consistent with the side that faced Derbyshire in a two-day warm-up last week is that of vice-captain Michael Clarke at four.

Clarke swapped places with Hussey and despite scoring just one and Australia skipper Ponting has insisted that the vice-captain will remain at four all the way up to the Ashes series against England that starts down under in November.

That is the way it will be, not only for this series but right through the Ashes as well

Ponting on Michael Clarke batting at number four

"That is absolutely the way it will be [Clarke at four]," Ponting told reporters. "I had a good chat to both those guys leading into the Derby game about the reasons behind it and what I see as being the best for the team.

"That is the way it will be, not only for this series but right through the Ashes as well."

Meanwhile, Ponting - who is still searching for his first Test century at Lord's - has told debutants Paine and Smith to forget about where they are playing and concentrate on their games.

"The guys that have been here and done it before will hopefully be better for the experience of last time," the Australia captain added. "We will be talking to the young guys about the enormity of the game.

"There is already enough pressure on them to be worrying about where they are playing and who they are playing in front of."

Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Steven Smith, Marcus North, Tim Paine (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter George, Usman Khawaja, Steve O'Keefe

Pakistan (from): Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wkt), Zulqarnain Haider, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Tanveer Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Danish Kaneria

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see also
Paine backs Australians to shine
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Pakistan wrap up Twenty20 series
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Umar Akmal stars in Pakistan win
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Ponting keen for Tait Test return
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Australia finish series with win
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Ashes victory 'vital for Ponting'
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Pakistan stroll to Northants win
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Pakistan draw tour game with Kent
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Afridi guides Pakistan to victory
21 Jun 10 |  Cricket
Younus left out for England tour
20 Jun 10 |  Pakistan

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