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Pakistan vs Australia 2nd Test Preview + Dream11

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

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The much-anticipated second Test, after a thrilling first, is here. It is a bit of a shame this is only a two-match series, but we could have a gripping finale on our hands.

Dubai, hopefully, was the beginning of something special for the tourists under new leadership. For the home side, though, many questions are to be answered after letting one slip away.

Who will take out the series in Abu Dhabi?

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Perhaps a bigger question for Pakistan just a few days back was how on earth did they let that one slip? On top for most of the match, in conditions they are familiar with, you always felt they had things under control. Instead, Pakistan are now winless in four Tests in the UAE, dating back to October 2016, and it is now that Sarfraz Ahmed has to display a sense of calm to help get the best out of his teammates in a pressure game. Ranked number one in Tests two years ago, Pakistan are currently in seventh, staring at failing to win a series that they were odds-on favourites in. Will the pressure tell?

Take nothing away from Australia, though. Led by the magnificent Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine, with help from Aaron Finch and Travis Head, Australia executed a reguard action any great Australian side in history would be proud of. Stomach for the fight is what the public has ordered, and Australia delivered in a Dubai Test where they were pretty much on the ropes as soon as the coin landed Pakistan’s way. Tim Paine has spoken of his desire to win the series, which is encouraging, but can Australia go one better in these conditions?

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Key to a Pakistan win

Skill wise, Pakistan actually got most things right in Dubai. Mohammad Abbas was simply majestic across two innings, with Bilal Asif the same in the first and Yasir Shah in the second. The batsmen worked hard to get a big score on the board, and it all seemed enough.

So where did it slip away?

Pakistan’s mindset let them down at times in Dubai, which has prompted some finger-pointing at skipper Sarfraz Ahmed. On the fourth day, fielders were spread out early in the innings, where building pressure was the order of the day. Pakistan were unrelenting, but only at times, which begs the question – can they maintain a competent strategic focus against an Australian side willing to fight it out? When Australia are on the mat, will Pakistan be aggressive enough to ramp home the advantage?

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This has been a common sight of late

Also, on many occasions over this decade, Pakistan’s batsmen have done well in the UAE. Much of the same will be expected again in Abu Dhabi, but more especially from Azhar Ali, who was uncharacteristically shaky against a favoured opponent in Dubai. Can Pakistan grind Australia into the UAE turf again? This time, will they make it count with victory?

Key to an Australia win

Despite Australia’s miracle escape in Dubai, there are questions still to be answered.

The Marsh brothers looked in all sorts, contributing nothing from the key number three and four positions. It is likely they will occupy those two slots again, and it is critical they adjust to the conditions adequately by playing with softer hands, regardless of the start Australia have. This is especially significant given the Sheffield Shield season starts on Tuesday, and there will be many batsmen eyeing out a spot in the XI for the 1st Test against India later this year.

If Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja can repeat their heroics, then Shaun and Mitch Marsh need to ensure there is no start of a collapse. The same applies if the opening stand is broken early. To win this Test, Australia need to score big, and their top six is vital to the cause.

Can Usman Khawaja repeat his brilliance against Mohammad Abbas and spin bowling? What about Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Tim Paine? Will Marnus Labsuchange have a breakthrough moment? It will make for interesting viewing.

Also, Jon Holland’s lack of control in Dubai was a concern. Like the batting, Australia’s bowling needs to be tight in conditions where blasting opposition batting line-ups out is the cricketing equivalent to Everest. The same applies to Mitchell Starc, who will be better for the run. Can Australia’s attack, led by the excellent Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, trouble Pakistan?

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Possible XIs

For Pakistan, it is very doubtful that Wahab Riaz will get a game here after a disappointing Dubai outing. Left-arm seamer Mir Hamza was in line for a debut in the first Test, and he could very well get it in the second. With 278 wickets in 56 First Class games at an average of 17, Hamza deserves his chance. Also, Imam-ul-Haq is out with a broken finger, with Fakhar Zaman has been brought in, and Shadab Khan is available for the game. Could he get in over Bilal Asif?

Pakistan possible XI: 1.  Mohammad Hafeez, 2. Fakhar Zaman, 3. Azhar Ali, 4. Haris Sohail, 5. Babar Azam, 6. Asad Shafiq, 7. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 8. Bilal Asif/Shadab Khan, 9. Mohammad Abbas, 10. Mir Hamza, 11. Yasir Shah

Personal preference suggests Matthew Renshaw should be in this side. But, Australia captain Tim Paine has said he is confident with the team that played the Dubai Test, and the option is there of bringing in Michael Neser or Brendan Doggett because of some grass on the pitch. However, the Abu Dhabi pitch has looked like this in the past, and it has pretty much always played according to script – batting paradise, where spin will play a key role.

Australia possible XI: 1. Aaron Finch, 2. Usman Khawaja, 3. Shaun Marsh, 4. Mitchell Marsh, 5. Travis Head, 6. Marnus Labuschange, 7. Tim Paine (c & wk), 8. Mitchell Starc, 9. Peter Siddle, 10. Nathan Lyon, 11. Jon Holland

Dream11

Will be an interesting match also for Dream11, with a few good options. Below is my team with a few pointers.
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  • Usman Khawaja is in imperious form. His strategy against the spinners – particularly the execution of his sweeps/reverse sweeps, gives me confidence he will go well again.
  • Tim Paine, Aaron Finch and Travis Head also make my side, given the fighting spirit from these three.
  • Will Azhar Ali have two poor games in a row? Probably not. Mohammad Hafeez is a decent option, too.
  • Both key spinners (Lyon and Shah) make the side, as well as impressive seamers Mohammad Abbas and Peter Siddle.
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Stats and Facts

  • Pakistan are winless in their last four Tests in the UAE.
  • Since the start of the tour of India in 2017, Australia have played seven Tests in Asia, winning two, drawing two and losing three. They have been competitive in most games.
  • Pakistan and Australia have played once at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, with Pakistan winning by 356 runs. Misbah-ul-Haq scored the then equal fastest Test century.

Prediction

Can’t wait for the game. Can Australia continue the good fight from Dubai, or will Pakistan go one better?
Head says Pakistan, heart says Australia. In these conditions, Pakistan have what it takes to win the series. But, the key for Australia will be to build pressure on Pakistan and stay with them as long as possible. Can they do it? It remains to be seen.
Thanks for reading!

P.S., looking to improve your game or replicate your heroes? Claim discounts on any of 700+ cricket items at onlinecricstore.com with a single code! Find out more here!

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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