Australia vs Pakistan 2019, First Test: 5 players to look out for
Another summer of Test cricket in Australia is going to kick start from November 21, 2019. Australia will take on Pakistan in a two-match Test series, the first game of which is to be played at the iconic Gabba stadium in Brisbane. It will be Men in Green's first Test in the ICC World Test Championships, which sees India firmly holding on to the top spot after their thumping victories against South Africa and Bangladesh at home.
Also see - India vs West Indies schedule 2019
Australia are playing a Test series after a scintillating contest in the Ashes series which ended 2-2. Ahead of the start of the home summer, their captain Tim Paine hinted at retiring post the end of this summer of cricket. He was rather understanding of his position in the team, amidst growing concerns of his lacklustre batting returns in recent times.
Pakistan are in a tremendous re-building stage with senior statesman taking over from Sarfaraz Ahmed as the skipper of their Test team. Babar Azam's foray into T20I captaincy hasn't gone as planned as he has not yet tasted success. It has to be seen if Azhar Ali can inspire his troops in a series which highly favors the hosts.
Here's looking at five players to look out for in the two-match series between Australia and Pakistan:
#5 Azhar Ali
Pakistan have gone through yet another reshuffle in their team management. The incumbent Mickey Arthur made way for Misbah-Ul-Haq to take over as the head coach. And their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has been dropped from all forms of the game, giving Azhar Ali the opportunity to lead the test match team.
Although a very huge honour for any cricketer to lead his side, Azhar would know he couldn't have asked for a worse time to take over the reins. Pakistan have been struggling to put on a contest in all forms of the game off-late. To add to this big names like Mohammed Amir and Wahab Riaz decided to end their red ball careers to focus on LOIs.
Along with the various challenges that would be presented to Azhar Ali, comes a huge opportunity as well. Not many people would give Pakistan much of a chance in this series against Australia on their home conditions. It is also is the team's foray into the ICC World Test Championship.
Azhar Ali certainly has proved his mettle as a batsmen. A test specialist who should be tried in LOIs as well to provide stability to the middle order has amassed 5669 runs in 73 matches at a very formidable average of 43.02. He can bat well and bat long. The question Pakistan's fans would be asking is- How good a captain can Azhar Ali be?