BRISBANE - Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc says Australia plan to inflict a psychological blow on vulnerable Pakistan in Thursday's day-night first Test in Brisbane to set up their three-match series.

The left-armer said Australia, who lost Test series against Sri Lanka and South Africa recently, sense an opportunity to strike with Pakistan struggling for form away from home. The visitors have never won in 11 series in Australia, dropping their last three series here 3-0 and losing their previous nine Tests Down Under since 1999.

Their recent form in New Zealand on the way to Brisbane does not engender confidence that things will be any different. They were defeated there by hefty margins in both Tests, including an ignominious collapse of nine wickets in the final session of the second Test in Hamilton. Starc is confident Steve Smith's new-look team, who halted a run of five Test defeats in the third Test against South Africa last month, can press their home advantage at the Gabba where Australia have not lost in 27 Tests stretching back to 1988. Pakistan have never won in four Brisbane Tests.

"They've struggled in New Zealand and probably struggle a little more away from home -- they're really comfortable in the UAE (where Pakistan play their home Tests)," Starc said. "So it's a good opportunity for us in this Test match to assert our dominance first up, make an impression in the first Test of the series, which goes a long way to working out the final result."

There is added spice to the series with South African Mickey Arthur now in charge of Pakistan three years after he was sacked as Australia coach and replaced by Darren Lehmann. Arthur, who still lives in Perth, faces the huge challenge of not only ending Pakistan's drought in Australia but becoming the first team from the sub-continent to win a Test series here.

He has past form when it comes to plotting series upsets in Australia. In 2008-09 he coached South Africa to a 2-1 victory -- the first time any touring team had won a campaign in Australia since the mighty West Indies 16 years earlier. "For these guys to come here and win would be amazing," Arthur said. "But we are under no illusions. Australia are a fantastic cricket team and, in these conditions, it's going to be very tough for us."

Pakistan's big hopes rest with their pace attack led by Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir, who is back playing Test cricket after a five-year ban following a spot-fixing controversy in 2010. "He's got great skills, everyone in world cricket knows that," Starc said of Amir. "He bowls at good pace, swings the ball, he's got a fast-arm action and knows his game really well for a young bowler.

"So he's one of the guys they're going to rely on to get that ball swinging around and trying to get wickets early and throughout an innings." Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who has taken 116 wickets in 20 Tests, injured his back in a pre-Test warm-up game and faces a fitness Test.

The clash will be Australia's third pink-ball Test, but the first under the Brisbane lights, having beaten New Zealand and South Africa in Adelaide. Pakistan downed the West Indies in their only day-night Test in Dubai in October.

Pakistan briefly held the top Test ranking this year but come into the match in fourth, while Australia are third behind top-ranked India.


Test ranking 3

Coach Darren Lehmann

Captain Steve Smith

Squad: Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Chadd Sayers, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.


Test ranking 4

Coach Mickey Arthur

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq

Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Sharjeel Khan, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, M Rizwan, Yasir Shah, M Nawaz, M Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan



Total 59

Australia win 28

Pakistan win 14

Draws 17


Total 32

Australia win 21

Pakistan win 4

Draws 7


Year Venue Result

2014 Abu Dhabi Pakistan won by 356 runs

2014 Dubai Pakistan won by 221 runs

2010 Leeds Pakistan won by three wickets

2010 Lord's Australia won by 150 runs

2010 Hobart Australia won by 231 runs

2010 Sydney Australia won by 36 runs

Pakistn look to conquer Aussie fortress Gaba

9 Successive Tests that Pakistan have lost in Australia. They lost 3-0 in each of the series in 1999-2000, 2004-05 and 2009-10. In these three series they lost two Tests each in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Hobart, and one in Brisbane. Australia is the only country where Pakistan haven't won an away Test since November 1999.

46.36 Pakistan's bowling average in these nine Tests. Apart from Saqlain Mushtaq, who took 10 wickets at 25.10 in 1999, no other Pakistan bowler has taken more than five wickets at a sub-35 average in Australia during this period. Their fast bowlers have taken 75 wickets at 45.94 in these nine Tests.

6 Hundreds scored by Pakistan batsmen in these nine Tests: two by Salman Butt, and one each by Mohammad Yousuf, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Ijaz Ahmed. The difference of 21 between Pakistan's bowling and batting averages during this period is easily their highest in any country.

27 Successive Tests without a defeat for Australia at the Gabba - their last loss was in November 1988, when West Indies beat them by nine wickets. Since then, Australia have won 20 out of 27 Tests here, with seven draws. The most recent draw was against South Africa in 2012; since then Australia have won against England (381 runs), India (four wickets) and New Zealand (208 runs) at this venue.

63.25 David Warner's Test average in Brisbane: in nine innings he has scored 506 runs, including three hundreds. The last time he played a Test here, he scored 163 and 116 against New Zealand.

43.16 Younis Khan's Test average in Australia. He hasn't yet scored a hundred here, but has four 40-plus scores in six innings.

24 Test wickets for Nathan Lyon in Brisbane; his average of 23.95 here is his best among all Australian venues. However, his average against Pakistan is 140.66: in two Tests against them in the UAE in 2014, he took three wickets conceding 422 runs.

10 Test wickets each for Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood at the Gabba - Starc has played three Tests here and has a bowling average of 35.90, while Hazlewood averages 28.

37.63 Fast bowlers' average in the last five Tests at the Gabba - they have taken 111 wickets, compared to the spinners' haul of 35 wickets at an average of 42.08.

2 Day-night Sheffield Shield games held at the Gabba in 2016: Queensland beat Tasmania by seven wickets in February (in the 2015-16 season), but lost to New South Wales by 225 runs at the start of the current season. Steven Smith scored 117 and 42 in New South Wales' win, while Josh Hazlewood had match figures of 6 for 99.