Masood keen to cast net wide in forming first Test attack

Abrar Ahmed claimed Pakistan's first wicket Getty Images

Pakistan are using their four-day match in Canberra to assess the balance of the side they may take into next week's first Test with at least one fast bowling spot up for grabs, although the key decisions will still be based on what conditions are served up at Optus Stadium in Perth.

The visitors have utilised the contest against the Prime Minister's XI to give their less experienced bowlers a run out in Australian conditions - albeit on a pitch that will likely bear little resemblance to the Test surface - and also to look at the role of the allrounders with a view to how they balance the line-up.

Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali are all-but-certain starters in Perth, while legspinner Abrar Ahmed seems sure to feature, but the identity of the third frontline quick could be up for debate with Faheem Ashraf appearing likely to take the No. 7 spot.

Left-armer Mir Hamza caused the occasional uneasy moment on a docile surface against the PM XI's top order while the uncapped Khurram Shahzad bowled tidily and claimed the wicket of Cameron Bancroft.

"We'll only be able to decide when we get closer to the game, see the pitch, see the conditions, see where the guys are at with their fitness and their loads," captain Shan Masood said on how the Test attack could shape up. "You have to look at the opposition as well, match-ups, or type of bowling, is huge in cricket now.

"Obviously Shaheen and Hasan are senior bowlers, they are probably penciled in, but you want to look at everyone and give them a fair run before you make that ultimate decision. The permutations on the structure if the side matters as well - do we go with an allrounder, what will the role of the spinner be? So there are a lot of things we are looking at and we are very glad we are playing a fixture like this."

Masood hinted that he sees Abrar, who has taken 38 wickets in his first six Tests, playing a key role. He sent down 19 overs on the second day and will likely be needed in both attacking and defensive roles in support of the quicks. However, the struggles of Yasir Shah in Australia - he averaged 89.50 in five Tests in the country - are a warning of the challenges ahead.

"Spinners are crucial and we've seen that with the Australian team, how good Nathan Lyon has been for a number of years," Masood said. "So a spinner plays an important role, he's very complimentary to the fast bowlers in these conditions. Abrar has done really well for us, he's taken a lot of wickets against good sides and we'll be hoping he does the same on this tour."

Marcus Harris, who was Abrar's wicket on the second day when he lofted to mid-on, was impressed by what he saw and believed his accuracy would stand him in good stead.

"He's good, he's different," he said. "We were lucky to see a bit of footage of him. If you hadn't seen him before it would have been a little bit tough to face early. He's very accurate as a legspinner which is half the battle then he's got some good variations. Not sure the wicket at Perth will suit him too much, or even Melbourne the way it's been, but Sydney probably won't be too different to this. Thought he bowled really well throughout the day."