Pakistan vs Australia 2018, First Test: Preview and Predicted Playing XI
Australia will kick-start their tour of Pakistan (UAE) with a two-match test series. The opening test will begin on Sunday, October 20 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The sides have played 62 tests against each other out of which 31 have been won by Australia and 14 by Pakistan with 17 having ended in draws.
However, In their previous test series in UAE (2014), Pakistan completely outplayed Aussies by a fascinating 2-0 margin. Buoyed by the batting of Azhar Ali, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, the hosts went on to win those games by 221 and 356 runs.
Australia has lost just three out of the five Tests they have played so far this year. Their most recent Test series win came at home against England in January.
It was a five-match Ashes series which the hosts ended up winning comfortably by 4-0. But faced a sudden slump afterward as they were completely thrashed by the South Africans by 3-1.
Shaun Marsh is one of the stand-out batsmen in the inexperienced Australian top order, having scored 592 runs in his last nine test matches before also hitting 94 against Pakistan A in the warm-up match for this series. While his most recent international action saw him smash two centuries against England, which makes him a key figure in this lineup.
Aaron Finch scored a half-century in the warm-up game against Pakistan A and, while this is his first test, he has played 135 previous internationals in the two limited-overs formats, hitting 27 half-centuries and 13 centuries across them both in that time. While Usman Khawaja has proved his worth in recent times.
In the absence of their frontline batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, he along with Skipper Tim Paine will have to bear an additional responsibility to get the team to a good total.
Aussies bowling will mostly rely on Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc. Lyon has been their key wicket taker in recent times as his last ten test have yielded 50 wickets, and he also claimed 8-103 in the practice game against Pakistan A.
While Mitchell Starc leads the pace attack and is their most experienced bowler in the current lineup, having claimed 182 wickets in his first 43 test matches.
Expected Playing XI: Tim Paine (C), Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland.
Pakistan has played just three tests this year two against England and one against Ireland. Their most recent saw them draw with England 1-1.
After winning the first test by nine wickets at Lord’s, they succumbed to an innings defeat inside three days at Headingley. Prior to that, they defeated Ireland in their first test by five wickets.
Azhar Ali has scored 825 runs in his last ten test matches for Pakistan, despite managing just one half-century in four innings against England, he is a danger man inside and will be eager to make a strong comeback against Aussies.
Imam-ul-Haq was also short of runs against England but links up with the test squad on the back of his three half-centuries in five ODI games at the Asia Cup – finishing as Pakistan’s top run scorer with 225 in five innings and the young man will be expected to score big runs on that occasion.
While the team will also need Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmad to make strong contributions with the bat.
Mohammad Abbas will lead the pace attack having claimed 42 wickets in his first eight tests.
That includes his match-winning match figures of 8-64 in the first test against England, which earned him the man of the match award. He most recently claimed 50 wickets in ten matches for Leicestershire in the County Championship.
Yasir Shah, who missed the tour of England and Ireland, leads the spin bowling unit, meanwhile, and has picked up 46 wickets in his last seven tests.
Expected Playing XI: Sarfraz Ahmad (C), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza.