First Test preview: Pakistan v Australia
Recently usurped by South Africa at the helm of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings, Australia will be determined to counter – against Pakistan – in the United Arab Emirates.
Captain Michael Clarke and the talented Mitchell Marsh have all but been passed fit, after nursing hamstring injuries. Marsh’s debut will probably mean fellow all-rounder Glenn Maxwell will be sidelined.
Plenty of overs of spin, then, will be left to the experienced Nathan Lyon and the promising Steve O’Keefe. The Aussies are not renowned for pairing specialist slow bowlers, but conditions in the gulf demand as much.
The Pakistan XI will be severely depleted, with fast bowler Junaid Khan absent due to injury and spinner Saeed Ajmal recently banned from bowling in international cricket due to an illegitimate arm action.
Pakistan A’s victory over the tourists last week, though, exposed some weaknesses. Coach Waqar Younis has publicly noted the shortfalls, without specifying, but reverse swing is effectively the frontrunner.
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s odd actions and consistent criticism of captain Misbah-ul-Haq often steers the limelight clear of the on-field proceedings. The team, though, will be presented with the ideal chance to shift the spotlight back.
The need for spinner Zulfiqar Babar’s to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility grew exponentially in the wake of Ajmal’s suspension – and now is the time to turn plenty of promise into results.
Tipped as a future captain and in the form of his life in ODI cricket, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will likely debut in Dubai. Perhaps more with the ball than the bat, the 23-year-old will prove key.
Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2010: Second Test: Pakistan won by three wickets in Leeds
2010: First Test: Australia won by 150 runs in London
2010: Third Test: Australia won by 231 runs in Hobart
2010: Second Test: Australia won by 36 runs in Sydney
2009: First Test: Australia won by 170 runs in Melbourne
Probable Playing XIs
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Steven O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon.
Dates: 22-26 October
Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (06:00-08:00 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40 (08:40-10:40 GMT)
Evening session: 15:00-17:00 (11:00-13:00 GMT)
On-field umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Marais Erasmus
Third umpire: Nigel Llong
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle
Ben Stokes returns from injury with stunning catch in Durham win
Stokes made his first appearance since April returning from a broken finger.
Kyle Jamieson claims five wickets as New Zealand turn screw at Ageas Bowl
The 6fit 8in paceman finished with sensational figures of five for 31.
Chris Woakes: England absence has felt like waste of my form
Woakes is hoping to get the nod for Wednesday’s T20 against Sri Lanka, ending a 280-day absence from the England XI.
5 things we learned from the women’s Test between England and India
Rain on day three dented hopes of a positive outcome at Bristol.
Heather Knight says Bristol game was ‘brilliant advert’ for women’s Test cricket
England and India drew a weather-affected contest.
Kyle Jamieson takes two big wickets as New Zealand seize the initiative
Jamieson claimed the prize scalp of Virat Kohli, who failed to add to his overnight score of 44.
England v India day four: Sneh Rana and Taniya Bhatia secure draw for visitors
England were unable to break through and start a run chase on the final day.
Kyle Jamieson says New Zealand-India final ‘pretty even’ after hard-fought day
India are 146 for three in the rain-affected World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.
Heather Knight ‘open’ to five-day Tests as England Women draw with India
England were unable to break a ninth-wicket century stand by the visitors in the four-day match.
England Women forced to settle for draw as India’s lower order thwarts hosts
Sneh Rana and Taniya Bhatia put on an unbroken 104-run stand for the ninth wicket to help deny England the chance of victory at Bristol.