Pakistan's hopes of coming to Australia with a rare combination of two legs have had great success with Shadab Khan, but on Sunday he was unable to participate in the opening test in Dubai. Shadab has yet to recover from a groin injury he sustained during the Asian Cup, although Pakistan is hopeful that he will be fit for the second test in Abu Dhabi.
Instead, Bilal Asif, winner of one lap, is ready for a test debut. And it also almost guarantees a return to the side of Mohammad Hafeez, discarded and displeased earlier this year after being expelled from the ODI side, but now he returned for a first test in more than two years. As much as he runs, Pakistan will look for Hafeez's shots against an Australian top-six that includes three lefties.
However, the absence of Shadab will be a blow. Earlier this summer, while Pakistan was touring England, Mickey Arthur was enjoying the possibility of unleashing Yasir Shah and Shadab as a team in the UAE.
That tour was a breakthrough for Shadab in the longer format. Although his numbers shine with the bat in hand (three fiftys in the three Tests in swinging conditions), there were signs that his leg kick was also developing. It was far from the finished product, but a big improvement over its Test debut at Bridgetown in April 2017.
Pakistan has not historically been reluctant to play with two legs on the same XI Test. Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed played a test together in 1990 against the West Indies; Mushtaq played a pair of Tests with Daneria Kaneria in 2003. And although Shahid Afridi counts as an all-rounder, his leg pin accompanied Kaneria's in up to 17 Tests. In the 60s and 70s, Intikhab Alam and Mushtaq Mohammad played together many times, both world-wide in the strict sense, but both also skaters.
Spin was the main factor in Pakistan's 2-0 win when Australia traveled to the UAE for the last time four years ago. Yasir, Zulfiqar Babar and Hafeez took 30 of the 40 Australian lands in that series.
Pakistan is considering another rookie in Mir Hamza, the fast bowler on the left arm who could be associated with Mohammad Abbas in a two-man rhythm attack. With Mohammad Amir off the stage, the choice would be between Wahab Riaz and Hamza, but the low impact of the former for Pakistan "A" in the warm-up game may go against their inclusion.