First Test Preview: Australia v Pakistan
No Asian team has ever won a Test series in Australia and victories of any kind have been hard to come by for Pakistan but they will be hopeful that their dynamic bowling attack can unsettle Australia’s young batsman.
Australia are likely to retain the XI that earned a consolation victory over South Africa in the third Test in Adelaide at the end of November.
The young Aussie batsman might struggle against the pink ball under lights with Pakistan sporting a fearsome pace attack led by Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir.
Likewise Pakistan’s batsman have shown they are uncomfortable against the swinging ball and short pitched bowling and will face an Australian attack that is lethal in these condtions.
Patience and application will be required from both sets of batsman but the likes of Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Steve Smith may prove to be the difference between the two sides.
Pakistan will need their senior batsman to contribute and much will be expected of Azhar Ali, the first man to score a century in a pink ball Test, as well as skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and veteran batsman Younus Khan.
There is no doubting Pakistan have quality with the ball but they will need to get runs as well in this series and for that to happen will need to improve a lot on their displays in New Zealand.
Australia should be favourites for this one but write Pakistan off at your peril.
For Australia Warner and Smith are the leaders both in title and in terms of their batting contributions, the Baggy Green need them to fire in order to get past the tourists.
With the ball Josh Hazlewood has been the stand out performer of the home season so far while Mitchell Starc is approaching his lethal best.
For Pakistan Misbah-ul-Haq will need to show his trademark grit and determination to rescue Pakistan if the top order comes up short which is a strong possibility.
The left-arm fast bowling of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz will Test Australia to the limit and could expose a fragile looking Australian middle order.
Last five head-to-head results
2014 Second Test: Pakistan won by 356 runs in Abu Dhabi
2014 First Test: Pakistan won by 221 runs in Dubai
2010 Second Test: Pakistan won by 3 wickets at Headingley
2010 First Test: Australia won by 150 runs at Lord’s
2010 Third Test: Australia won by 231 runs in Hobart
Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon, Chadd Sayers.
Pakistan:Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Sharjeel Khan, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan, Mohammad Asghar.
Dates: 15-19 December
Afternoon session: 14:00-16:00 (03:30-05:30 GMT)
Evening session: 16:40-18:40 (06:10-08:10 GMT)
Night session: 19:00-21:00 (08:30-10:30 GMT)
Umpires: Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth
TV Umpire: Sundaram Ravi
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle
Craig Overton claims 400th first-class wicket in Somerset-Hampshire clash
The England seamer’s three-wicket burst left the contest delicately balanced at the halfway stage.
Three positive Covid tests confirmed in New Zealand’s tour party
Batter Henry Nicholls, seamer Blair Tickner and bowling coach Shane Jurgensen will self-isolate for five days.
Zak Crawley outdone by Ben Compton as Kent start strongly at Northamptonshire
Opener Compton stole the show with an unbeaten 125.
Mark Wood admits frustration over slow progress from elbow surgery
Wood is targeting a Test return towards the back end of the summer.
McCullum hopes ‘attractive brand of Test cricket’ can see red-ball game thrive
New head coach Brendon McCullum is looking to transform England’s fortunes.
Effects of lockdown on bowlers may be playing part in spate of stress fractures
In the past week Jofra Archer, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher have all been ruled out for the season with lower back injuries.
Ben Stokes to be subject of Amazon documentary created by Sam Mendes
The 30-year-old will open up on his World Cup and Headingley heroics as well as his off-the-field troubles.
Jofra Archer setback adds to England’s fast bowling injury crisis
Saqib Mahmood, Jofra Archer and Matthew Fisher have all been ruled out for the season this week.
England bowler Jofra Archer sidelined for the summer after injury setback
Archer has suffered a stress fracture of the lower back.
Paul Farbrace: Che Simmons may play for England after signing Warwickshire deal
The 18-year-old has signed a three-year contract.