Second Test Preview: Australia v Pakistan
Pakistan and Australia contested possibly the Test of the year in Brisbane last week with the hosts winning by just 39 runs.
Pakistan will take heart though from the way they fought back in the first Test and ran Australia close after looking second best for most of the contest.
With Younus Khan and Azhar Ali coming back into form and Asad Shafiq fresh off a brilliant hundred the main concern for Pakistan will be the form of skipper Misbah-ul-Haq who flopped at the Gabba.
Australia face a selection dilemma with rookie Nic Maddinson failing to impress in his first two Tests and allrounder Hilton Cartwright called into the squad ahead of this Test just a few days after an unchanged squad of twelve was named.
Australia’s top bowlers have rubbished suggestions they are tired heading in to this contest but it will be interesting to see how they fare if Pakistan keep them in the field for a spell.
Pakistan have won in Melbourne twice before and will be looking to make it three to keep their hopes of an upset series win alive.
Steve Smith has been Australia’s rick with the bat and they are likely to need him to hold a young middle order together.
For Pakistan Younus Khan’s timely return to form will be a huge boost, if they are going to bat for a long time he will have to play a big role.
With the ball Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir will again be asked to do the job for the tourists but Yasir Shah is likely to come into the game more at the slower MCG.
Australia will naturally rely on Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc to lead the attack but Nathan Lyon will play a key role for the hosts with his tweakers.
Last five head-to-head results
2016 First Test: Australia won by 39 runs at the Gabba
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
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Matthew Wade (wk), Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Matt Renshaw, Nic Maddinson, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
Pakistan squad: 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
Dates: 26 – 30 December
Morning session: 10:30-12:30 (23:30-01:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 13:10-15:10 (02:10-04:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:30-17:30 (04:30-06:30 GMT)
Umpires: Ian Gould and Sundaram Ravi
TV Umpire: Richard Illingworth
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle
Royals skipper Steve Smith available after completing concussion protocols
Steve Smith had been in doubt for the opening match against the Chennai Super Kings after suffering a concussion during a net in England.
He can’t cheat this time: Tom Curran looks forward to renewing sibling rivalry
They are brothers in arms for England and Surrey but Tom and Sam Curran find themselves on opposite teams in the IPL.
Wicket milestones, Crawley’s heroics and collapses – England’s summer of cricket
After two-and-a-half months, 18 matches and six series across all formats the ride is over for the men’s team
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Sussex complete Blast quarter-final line-up
The final three places were confirmed, with the ties to take place on October 1.
On This Day in 2009: England avoid ODI humiliation against Australia
Graeme Swann took 5-28 as England ended the series losing 6-1.
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.