Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has termed playing in Pakistan one of the most memorable experiences of his career. The 40-year-old represented Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Australia will visit Pakistan for the first time in 24 years to compete in an all-format tour. The two sides will meet for the first time since the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final in the UAE.
Watson reserved praise for Cricket Australia for their role in ensuring the right security protocols and conveying safety to the players as well. In an interview with the ICC, he said:
"I was fortunate to play a few Pakistan Super League (matches) over there and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life.
"It is brilliant that Cricket Australia have gone to great lengths to make sure they have got all the information they need to make sure the players' minds are at ease around the security side of things, so it is going to be a brilliant series."
Australia are coming on the back of a 4-1 T20I series win over Sri Lanka. Despite their impressive form, their record in the subcontinent, especially in recent times, has been far from the best.
The hosts, on the other hand, have struggled to bring cricket back to their country. New Zealand and England postponed their respective tours to the Asian country due to security concerns last year.
Watson noted how the passionate crowd in Pakistan will relish the opportunity to watch their team play Australia on their home soil. He said:
"I am super excited as I know how much the Pakistan people have been starved of cricket. They are so cricket obsessed and love nothing more than watching Pakistan play and especially live cricket at home."
Pakistan have hosted the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies over the course of the last two years. The nation is also slated to host the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.
"My gut is telling me Australia will win the series" - Shane Watson
Australia are on the lookout to make it to the finals of the World Test Championship after marginally missing out last time. They will face another formidable candidate in the form of Pakistan, who have found their stride in the longest format as well.
Despite having nothing much to separate the two sides, taking the conditions into account, Watson believes Australia will come out as the winners. He said:
"I would be surprised if Australia don't get up, just knowing the Australian bowlers and how well they bowled (against England) during the Ashes.
"It was relentless fast bowling across the board and everyone really complemented each other really well and Pakistan are going to need to bat out of their skins just to stay in the game."
"My gut is telling me Australia will win the series if they score enough runs, as I believe their bowlers will be good enough to put the Pakistan batters under a lot of pressure."
Opining that the ball does not turn much on the wickets in Pakistan, Watson expects the fast bowlers to step up. He concluded:
"It is going to be great to see so many world-class fast bowlers like Shaheen Afridi and the Australian fast bowlers and how they are able to attack on such batting wickets. But one of my favorites, is well, Babar Azam, how beautiful is he to watch, as Rohit Sharma, everything he does is effortless."
Australia's tour of Pakistan will begin with the first Test in Rawalpindi on March 4. The two sides will play three Tests, three ODIs and one T20I.
Get IPL 2023 Live Score along with Points Table & Schedule Updates at Sportskeeda.