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Australia ‘comfortable’ with security of Pakistan tour

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SYDNEY: Test skipper Pat Cummins said on Friday his team is “comfortable” with security arrangements and excited by what lies ahead, as Australia prepares to jet into Pakistan on their first tour since 1998.

They are due to leave over the weekend ahead of the first of three Tests in Rawalpindi on March 4 giving them less than a week to acclimatise and without any warm-up matches.

It will be followed by Tests in Karachi and Lahore before three ODIs and a single T20, all in Rawalpindi.

“We’ve got to a place where everyone hopping on the plane is comfortable with where it’s all sitting. It’s been a really thorough body of work that the security and the logistics teams have worked through,” Cummins said.

“And obviously the added layer of bio-security in these times as well. So, we’re feeling really good and once we get over there, we’re going to be able to just concentrate on the cricket.

“More than anything it’s a really special tour,” he added. “We’re going to fly over there and experience something for the first time. We’re really excited, everyone is in a good place.”

Cricket-mad Pakistan endured a long spell without a visit from an international team following a terror attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan side in Lahore in 2009.

They were forced to play their home international matches abroad mostly in the United Arab Emirates until 2015, when normal service tentatively resumed.

But concerns surfaced again last year when New Zealand quit their first tour to the country in 18 years shortly before the opening match was due to start following a security alert.

Australia head into the series on the back of a 4-0 Ashes thumping of England over the home summer, with the starting XI for Rawalpindi expected to be much the same.

Usman Khawaja who was born in Pakistan is set to partner David Warner at the top of the order ahead of Marcus Harris, who was dropped during the Ashes.

Cummins confirmed Steve Smith had recovered from a concussion during their recent T20 series against Sri Lanka and will retain his place.

Otherwise, the side is set to mirror the one that faced England in the fifth Test last month with Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitch Starc providing pace and Nathan Lyon spin.

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