Australia named a full-strength squad on Tuesday for its first Pakistan tour in 24 years, with spinners Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar drafted to back up their formidable pace attack.
Pat Cummins’ side – which recently lost coach Justin Langer in acrimonious circumstances – are slated to play a three-Test series in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore from March 4.
Bowler Josh Hazelwood will be back in action after missing most of Australia’s recent 4-0 demolition of England in the Ashes.
Scott Boland who thrilled fans with a stunning debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during that series – including a spell that saw him take six wickets for seven runs – has been retained.
But there will be more backup in the spin department for stalwart Nathan Lyon, who is joined by leg-spinner Swepson and left-hander Agar.
Batters Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith are also able to bowl spin, leaving the tourists with plenty of options if the subcontinental wickets start to turn.
It is Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in almost a quarter-century.
Cricket-mad Pakistan has struggled to entice foreign sides back after home internationals were suspended following a deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka Test side in 2009.
Pakistan was forced to play their home international matches abroad – mostly in the United Arab Emirates – until 2015, when normal service tentatively resumed.
For Australia, the tour will be a major test of Cricket Australia’s decision to push Langer out of the coaching role.
Andrew McDonald has been appointed interim coach.
Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner