Australia vs. Pakistan - First Test match
MATCH UP STATS
Australia vs. Pakistan - First Test match
Last five Test resultsAustralia: L L L L WPakistan: W W L L L
Top batsman favouriteAustralia: David Warner - $3.75 at SportsbetPakistan: Azhar Ali - $5 at Bet365
Top bowler favouriteAustralia: Mitchell Starc - $2.75 at William HillPakistan: Mohammed Amir - $4 at Bet365
ALL of a sudden, things are looking up for Australia.
It was doom and gloom after the second Test against South Africa last month, but a win in Adelaide and a clean sweep of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy ODI series has put a spring back in the Aussies’ step.
Of particular promise is the form of Steve Smith and David Warner, who amassed some 535 runs between them in three clashes with New Zealand.
Both the captain ($4 at Bet365) and his deputy ($3.75 at Sportsbet) are heavily favoured in the first innings batting markets for the pink ball Test against Pakistan, which kicks off this Thursday in Brisbane.
Smith and Warner are also among the favourites for the man of the match award, although Mitchell Starc ($7.50 at Bet365) has been backed onto the first line at some online bookies.
But the left-arm destroyer has some stern competition in the top wicket-taker betting, with opening partner Josh Hazlewood rated a $3 chance at William Hill.
Whether Jackson Bird ($5 at Sportsbet) or Chadd Sayers ($5.50 at Bet365) lines up as first change is the only question the selectors have to answer.
Shaun Marsh’s broken finger is not yet healed, so the trio of Adelaide debutants – Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson – will all keep their spots in the top six.
Although Maddinson made a duck in maiden Test innings, both Handscomb and Renshaw plenty of promise in their time at the crease.
“We were very pleased with how the team came together in Adelaide after some significant changes following the Tests in Perth and Hobart,” said Trevor Hohns, Australia’s interim chief selector.
“This is a young group with a lot of promise and we believe all deserve their opportunity again in this upcoming Test.”
The experience of batting under lights at Adelaide could prove very useful against a powerful Pakistani bowling attack on what is usually a bouncy wicket at the Gabba.
Misbah-ul-Haq’s men came undone on their recent two-Test tour of New Zealand, losing both games to record their first series defeat in over two years.
Innings totals of 133, 171, 216 and 230 against the Kiwis sum up the problem.
Only three Pakistani batsmen managed a half-century in the series: Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Sami Aslam, each with one apiece.
The visitors weren’t much better in their recent tour match against an inexperienced Cricket Australia XI in Cairns, succumbing for 208 in the first innings.
But Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has faith that his left-arm quicks, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, can trouble an Aussie batting order that features seven mollydookers.
“For us the key is adapting to conditions, and if we can adapt to conditions quick enough we’ll be fine,” Arthur told reporters on Monday.
“I constantly remind the players if we can be getting 270, 280, 300, we’re in the game because we’ve got the ability to take 20 wickets.
“If we can use the new ball particularly well against Australia, we’ll be good. And seven left-handers in their 11 makes our left-armers even more potent.”
The tourists are hoping to welcome back gun leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who missed the CA XI warm-up match with a back problem.
“Yasir Shah is coming on nicely. He’s come along really well,” Arthur said.
“He bowled six overs the last day in Cairns [in the nets] which was pleasing.
“It will be good to see him go in the nets today, I saw him in the hotel and he seemed fine … He’s obviously integral to our plans.”
Usman Khawaja betting specials
Smith and Warner were superb in the New Zealand ODI series, but let’s not forget about the match-winner in Adelaide.
Khawaja finished a solid individual effort against the Proteas with the innings of his life, knocking a gutsy 145 as a stand-in opener to put Australia in pole position.
He took that form back to the Sheffield Shield last week, playing a lone hand with 157 and 61 in Queensland’s defeat to Western Australia.
In fact, Khawaja has notched a half-century or better in each of his last first-class appearances.
He loves batting at the Gabba – he hit 174 there last year – and should be a real chance in the top batsman and match of the match markets.
Man of the match – $11 at William Hill
To score 100 – $5.50 at Sportsbet
Top Australia batsman – $5 at Bet365
To score 50 – $2.50 at William Hill
Mohammad Amir top bowler odds
It’s good to see this guy playing Test cricket again.
Amir would probably be the world’s best fast bowler by now if he hadn’t missed five years due to a spot-fixing ban.
His Test legs are just starting to return now after a few months back in the game.
The 24-year-old lefty was good in New Zealand, topping Pakistan’s bowling charts with seven wickets at 28.57 and a 56.5 strike rate.
There’s room for improvement yet, however, and a pitch like the Gabba – with the potential for late swing under lights – should suit Amir down to the ground.
Man of the match – $19 at Bet365
Top Pakistan bowler – $4 at Bet365
Most wickets vs. Starc and Hazlewood – $3.02 at Sportsbet
Over 2.5 first innings wickets – $1.70 at William Hill
Australia vs. Pakistan match predictions
This series is shaping as a battle of top-notch fast bowling, but what about the bats?
Australia couldn’t cope with South Africa’s canny seam work, even with Dale Steyn missing most of the series.
Two of the three young bats showed plenty of promise in Adelaide, but it’s an experienced middle order that could crumble at any time.
The Pakistanis, meanwhile, seem incapable of clocking anything like a Test-standard innings total.
Only a handful of Asian batsmen have ever really shone in Australia, so expect the form of Warner, Smith, Hazlewood, et al to get the hosts home on their happy hunting ground.
Highest opening partnership – Australia ($1.70 at William Hill)
First dismissal – Caught wicketkeeper ($4 at Sportsbet)
Australia top bat/top bowler double – Khawaja/Hazlewood ($13 at Sportsbet)
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