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
Reece Topley impresses as Surrey edge closer to home tie in Blast quarter-finals
Topley left Hampshire in 2018 but the left-armer came back to haunt his former club with career-best figures of four for 20.
ICC Rankings: Bairstow and Woakes surge after ODI series against Australia
England remain in first place on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League but are the only side to have played two series.
Fleming: This season is going to be very different tactically
Stephen Fleming has coached the Chennai Super Kings in nine of the 11 IPL tournaments the team has taken part in.
Rohit Sharma praises Mumbai Indians efforts to ease mental strain of bubble
All the Indian Premier League squads will have to stay inside their respective bio-bubbles for the six weeks of the tournament.
Smith to join up with Rajasthan Royals despite concussion
Cricket Australia do not want Steve Smith back on the field before he has properly cleared all their concussion protocols.
Kimmince thrilled that Australia Women are blazing a trail again
Australia will face New Zealand in three T20Is and three ODIs at Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
Yorkshire suffer another Lancashire defeat despite impressive Joe Root display
Lancashire booked their place in the Vitality Blast knockout stages.
Heather Knight calls on ICC to get women’s cricket back on around the world
England will take the field for the first time since March’s T20 World Cup on Monday.
Chris Silverwood eager for a winter of cricket after unexpected busy summer
England coach is eyeing a full programme.