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Aussies to deliver answers at the Gabba

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 Rob Forsaith

Dead-cat bounce or genuine revival? Australia's new-look cricket team will deliver the answer in their upcoming three-Test series against Pakistan.

The national side last month hit arguably its lowest ebb in the lifetime of skipper Steve Smith.

Australia lost the first Test of a home summer for the first time in almost 30 years. They then lost almost all credibility - and the series against South Africa - after recording the nation's lowest Test total at home since 1984.

Smith spoke from the heart in the aftermath, demanding resilience and pride in the baggy green. Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh resigned, almost half the XI were axed, three debutants were called up for a dead rubber and it resulted in the end of a five-Test losing streak.

It is a victory that should boost Smith's belief ahead of a another day-night Test - against Pakistan at a venue where Australia haven't lost a Test since 1988.

But young batsmen Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson will battle more than the pink ball in the Gabba clash that starts on Thursday.

There will be the weight of expectation that has well and truly returned.

Pakistan have never won a series in Australia. Bookmakers are fully expecting a 3-0 win to Australia and Smith won't want to settle for anything less.

There will be a talented attack featuring legspinner Yasir Shah, who memorably bamboozled Australia on Test debut in 2014 and is set to be passed fit, plus left-armers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.

And there will still be a sense of uncertainty, according to Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur.

"We're a fairly settled unit. Everybody knows who's going to play ... Australia probably aren't as stable as what we are," Arthur said.

"They're probably starting again."

Arthur also made it clear he wants to prove Cricket Australia were wrong to sack him on the eve of the 2013 Ashes.

Those comments have ensured he will be one of the talking points of the series that includes Brisbane's first ever day-night Test, followed by more traditional fixtures at the MCG and SCG.

For Australia there are all manner of intriguing subplots.

Usman Khawaja, one of four players suspended as part of the 'homeworkgate' saga that cost Arthur his job in 2013, will seek to take his career-best form to another level.

Smith and David Warner, who both scored plenty of runs in the recent ODI series against New Zealand, will no doubt need to shore up an innings at some point.

The entire batting order will be tested by the swinging pink ball under lights. Those with the most at stake are the three freshest faces in the XI.

Maddinson, dismissed for a duck by an in-swinging yorker on Test debut, acknowledged earlier this week he needs a big score to keep his spot in the side.

It was a logical comment, especially with Shaun Marsh expected to be passed fit later this summer.

Renshaw, aged 20 and a stranger to Smith prior to being called up, is also at risk of being dropped if he fails to show great composure in his first home Test.

Of the three players to have started their Test careers in Adelaide, Handscomb seems the most likely to be retained for the tour of India in February.

Renowned for his unorthodox technique and ability to handle spin bowling, Handscomb noted upon arrival in Brisbane he can't wait to be tested by Shah - who in the past has been mentored by Shane Warne.

Cricket Australia, having started tense pay talks with the players' association this week, will also be sweating on the game at the Gabba.

CA boss James Sutherland would naturally want a spike in crowds and TV ratings before the Big Bash League starts.

Sutherland has also made it clear he'd like to see the pink-ball experiment thrive in another city outside Adelaide. That push could hit a brick wall if players are unhappy with the clash in Brisbane.

On the flipside, Smith is ready to embrace a day-night Ashes Test next year and more teammates may well join him if Australia can make it a third straight win in the innovative fixture.

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