Flower confident Pakistan veterans will bloom
CRICKET: Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower is hoping senior players Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq will be inspired by their team's remarkable comeback at the Gabba as the tourists look for a rare success on Australian soil in the Boxing Day Test.
Pakistan has won only four times Down Under but a huge fourth-innings score of 450 in Brisbane brought it to within 40 runs of a unlikely - and record-breaking - win.
Flower said he expected Younis to lead the way after a classy 65 in the second innings, while he said skipper Misbah was hoping to improve on two single-figure scores in the first Test.
Younis, 39, threw his wicket away in the second dig at the Gabba when attempting a reverse sweep to Nathan Lyon.
But Flower said the veteran should not be castigated for playing one misjudged shot.
"As a coach, if you applaud guys when they play certain shots, then you've got to be careful how you go about it when they get out playing the same shot,” the former Zimbabwean international said.
"He's getting into better positions. I think today he had his best net practice for ages and he looked brilliant.”
Skipper Misbah scored four and five at the Gabba, but while Flower said the 42-year-old had been struggling, he backed him to get better as the tour progressed.
"He is going through a bit of a (rough) trot but he's been through these periods before and he's a class player,” he said.
"He's got the mental strength and resilience to come back and I'm sure a good innings is just around the corner.”
Left-arm quick Mohammad Amir took five wickets and also produced with the bat in the first Test, scoring 21 in the first innings before hitting a Test-best 48 in a partnership of 92 for the seventh wicket with Asad Shafiq.
He seemed unlikely to bowl or bat at all after he was taken from the field on a motorised stretcher after hurting his knee at the Gabba in the first innings.
Amir recovered remarkably to bowl a short time later but at training yesterday he was wearing a knee strapping and was sporting a huge bruise on his thigh after being hit by a Mitchell Starc full toss in the second innings.
Flower expected the 24-year-old to be fit for Boxing Day despite his trials and tribulations.
"There's quite a bit of bruising on his thigh,” Flower said. "He's feeling a bit stiff but he's all right.
"I think the guys are fit enough to go through (five days). I think our attack will probably be the same.
"We don't have that all-rounder (option). It's one of those things. The guys are just going to have get through it.”