SHARJAH - Glenn Maxwell is under a cloud for Friday’s series opener against Pakistan, but Australia could again unveil dual spin threats after being greeted by a pair of dry-looking surfaces at Sharjah for their first two one-dayers.

Maxwell missed training two days out from the first ODI after the allrounder was struck down by illness. The ground that proudly trumpets its ‘Guinness World Record’ for hosting the most ODIs in the format’s history is expected to take considerable turn.

Test tweaker Nathan Lyon is a strong chance to retain his spot after playing a key containing role in the three matches he featured in alongside leg-spinner Adam Zampa in their recent 50-over triumph in India, including the series decider. “Spin will be important for both sides. We’ve got two spinners, I’d be surprised if they don’t both play out here,” said paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile. “They’ve got quality spinners as well. It will be a good battle.”

Lyon has also been ill, sitting out training on Tuesday as he got over a stomach bug, but he returned to participate in Wednesday’s session. Pat Cummins was also back in action after being rested from the previous day’s blowout, as Australia stepped up preparations for the five-game series against Pakistan, which also features matches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

While skipper Aaron Finch said the tourists will wait to make a judgement on whether conditions necessitate the inclusion of both Lyon and Zampa skipper, he says history indicates slow bowlers will play a key role at Sharjah. “The stats from here all suggest that spin takes a bigger impact. I’ll expect them to spin,” said Finch. “We even saw yesterday the training wickets looked how we expect the middle to play. You’re never quite sure though, once there’s a bit of traffic on it they start to slow up pretty quick and spin a bit. I think that will be a feature, especially the two games in Sharjah.”

Sharjah most recently hosted an entire seven-game limited-overs series between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe last month, with spin bowlers finishing as four of the five leading wicket takers. One welcome factor for the visitors is the sweltering heat that met the Aussies on their most recent visit to the United Arab Emirates late last year has given way to a comparatively chilly desert ‘winter’ breeze.

Australia got accustomed to the only venue that has hosted more than 200 international 50-over clashes – 80 more than the SCG, the next most ‘prolific’ ODI ground, a bit of trivia that’s prominently displayed on no less than three separate billboards around the 16,000-capacity ground.

The Aussies trained extensively on a centre-wicket pitch prepared for them on Tuesday and Wednesday. Coulter-Nile, who missed the final three ODIs in India to fly home to Perth for the birth of his second child, tipped the first two games in Sharjah to be low-scoring tussles. “I’m not surprised at all (at the pitches), I’ve played here (in the UAE) before and it looks very similar,” said Coulter-Nile. “The wicket we trained on yesterday looks exactly the same as the match wicket. Low and slow, the new ball will be important, it will just get harder to bat as we go. I wouldn’t expect real high-scoring games.”