Australia vs. Pakistan - Third Test
MATCH UP STATS
Australia vs. Pakistan - Third Test
Test match formAustralia: L L W W WPakistan: L L L L L
Top runscorer tipsAustralia: Peter Handscomb - $8 at CrownBetPakistan: Asad Shafiq - $7 at William Hill
Top wicket-taker tipsAustralia: Josh Hazlewood - $3.25 at William HillPakistan: Mohammad Amir - $3.50 at Sportsbet
IT was all doom and gloom for Australia back in November.
Now, after finishing on the winning end of two wonderful Test matches in Brisbane and Melbourne, Steve Smith’s men are eyeing off a clean sweep.
Not all those who celebrated victory at the MCG will make the trip to Sydney, however.
Having failed to make any lasting impression in his three Tests to date, Nic Maddinson is out of the squad for the final Test of the series.
That could mean an out-of-the-blue Test debut for Hilton Cartwright, the Zimbabwe-born allrounder from Western Australia.
Also off the 13-man roster is Chadd Sayers, who never got a look-in thanks to Jackson Bird’s fine work as the third seamer.
Coming in are Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe, one of whom will start as spin support for Nathan Lyon – the catalyst of Australia’s thrilling fifth-day display in Melbourne.
On the other side of the fence, there is growing concern about the viability of Misbah-ul-Haq’s position in the Pakistan middle order.
The 42-year-old has failed miserably in this series, registering a mere 20 runs in four innings.
While it is unlikely he will be benched for the final Test, there are those who feel it is time now for the skipper to step aside and hand the reins to Asad Shafiq, Sharjeel Khan, et al.
But Misbah wasn’t the only one who failed to deliver as Pakistan crumbled for 163 in fine batting conditions at the MCG.
“There is no explanation,” he told reporters after the match on Friday.
“Once you are under pressure, from a position when you score  in the first innings and are dominating the game, then on the last day you are saving the Test, that pressure sometimes does things like that.
“And it was sheer pressure. Full credit to Australia, the way they batted and put us under pressure.”
Allrounder Mohammed Nawaz and his left-arm spin bowling are likely inclusions for Sydney, with Sohail Khan tipped to miss out after a rather lacklustre showing with ball in the second Test.
Mitchell Starc betting markets
Azhar Ali’s double tonne and Smith’s heroics grabbed plenty of headlines, but in amongst all that was a near-perfect demonstration of how to play as a number eight in Test cricket.
Having blasted 84 with the bat to push Australia into what turned out to be a winning position, Starc smoked through the Pakistani lower order with some of his best bowling of the summer so far.
He isn’t as consistent as Bird or Hazlewood, but who would you rather face: the reliable fast-medium seamer who bowls a solid line and length, or the belligerent left-arm tearaway who’s party trick is to rip your stumps out at 150kph?
Sydney is known to offer a bit of swing early in the day when the clouds are out (remember what Mohammad Amir did to Australia last time he played at the SCG?), in which case Starc could be unplayable if he gets his radar right.
Man of the match – $7.50 at CrownBet
Top Australia bowler – $3.25 at Sportsbet
Top Australia batsman – $67 at CrownBet
Most wickets vs. Amir and Hazlewood – $2.40 at CrownBet
Australia vs. Pakistan match bet picks
Two and zip isn’t an entirely fair reflection of the series thus far.
Pakistan fell only 40 runs of shy of a remarkable win in Brisbane and were in a seemingly unbeatable position in Melbourne until everything went wrong on day five.
The question is: can they get through a Test without shooting themselves in the feet at some point in proceedings?
Dropped catches, loose shots, poor tactics – they have to cut those out if they hope to improve in Sydney.
They also need to move Asad Shafiq up the batting order and bump down the old stagers, Younis Khan and Misbah.
But if it’s the same old Pakistan, and if the Aussies keep doing what they’ve been doing since the Adelaide Test, we’re looking at a whitewash.
Match result – Australia to win ($1.53 at Sportsbet)
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