Second Test preview: Pakistan v Australia


Pakistan find themselves leading a Test series against Australia, which is not something that's happened often this millennium, and they haven't won a Test series against the Aussies in 20 years.

Pakistan find themselves leading a Test series against Australia, which is not something that's happened often this millennium, and they haven't won a Test series against the Aussies in 20 years.

Coach Waqar Younis has begged his troops to focus, and try and break the hoodoo of inconsistency that plagues them. A Pakistan collapse was avoided in the first Test thanks to Younis Khan, but it's a lot to expect a third ton from him in three knocks.

Australia will be disappointed by that defeat, not only because they'd been on such a good run this year. If they'd won the series two nil, which many anticipated, they would have regained the number one Test ranking. Instead, South Africa are now top in Tests and ODIs.

Australia's batting in Dubai was disappointing for the most part, aside from David Warner's excellent early ton, and Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson's late resistance. They're usually rubbish against spin, but this time they were bamboozled by straight balls.

Alex Doolan is unlikely to be dropped despite his poor knocks of five and a duck, with Clarke backing him to get a ton this game, while Pup has also said there's no way Smith will move up to three. The batting line up is unlikely to change.

The Aussies like naming unchanged sides, but the fact that Clarke thinks there will be less spin than in Dubai could see Nathan Lyon dropped in favour of a paceman like Mitchell Starc, or even Ben Hilfenhaus. Steve O'Keefe had a good debut, and should keep his place.

Pakistan, meanwhile, are riding high after their 221-run win. They recorded four centuries in that game to the Aussies' one, two of which went to Younis. The veteran is now Pakistan's leading century-maker, and will be key to more good scores.

More pleasingly though were the tons for Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed, both of whom have struggled to gain fans. Shehzad is very talented but always struggled to convert starts, and this was only his second Test ton, while Sarfraz's inclusion was often scoffed at.

Their bowling as also very impressive, with debutant Yasir Shah and 35-year-old Zulfiqur Babar ripping the Aussies apart despite the lack of turn. They showed that even someone like Saeed Ajmal is not the be-all and end-all of an attack.

One suspects this Test will be a much tighter affair, with the Aussies shrugging off what looked like complacency in Dubai, given they had won the ODI series with ease. They've been hard at work in the nets, and Pakistan will have to fight their infamous unpredictability to win.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, batsman Younis Kahn is the obvious choice, given his efforts in Dubai. He rescued the side from 7/2 in the first dig, and added a brisk second ton later on. Good thing the PCB didn't take him up on his offer to quit, eh?

The Aussies will look to Steve Smith, we reckon. He's the man of the moment, scoring a ton in the ODIs, and added a half ton to his records in Dubai. He's one of the better players of spin in the side, and can turn his own arm too when required.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2014: First Test: Pakistan won by 221 runs in Dubai<br>2010: Second Test: Pakistan won by three wickets in Leeds<br>2010: First Test: Australia won by 150 runs in London<br>2010: Third Test: Australia won by 231 runs in Hobart<br>2010: Second Test: Australia won by 36 runs in Sydney

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Pakistan:</i> Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Ehsan Adil, Haris Sohail, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shan Masood, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar

<i>Australia:</i> David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Brad Haddin, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Steve O'Keefe, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus

<b>Dates:</b> 30 October-3 November<br><b>Morning session:</b> 10:00-12:00 (06:00-08:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (08:40-10:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (11:00-13:00 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Marais Erasmus<br><b>Match referee:</b> Ranjan Madugalle