The Pakistan cricket team went into the series against Australia knowing that it was the best time to better their record in test cricket Down Under. The Aussies were still hurting from the humiliation at the hands of the Proteas and the team had undergone a considerable number of changes. The Baggy Greens though had not lost a test at the Gabba in like forever and Steven Smith’s boys were determined to keep that streak intact. What followed was surreal. After conceding a huge first innings lead (courtesy another batting collapse), the visitors seemed out of it when they were asked to score 490 in the 4th innings but as always, you can never know for sure with Pakistan. Asad Shafiq scored a magnificent 137 and along with the tail, threatened to complete what would have been one of the biggest coups ever in test cricket and but for a ferocious bouncer from Mitchell Starc, he might have very well done that. In the end, Australia won by 39 runs and though Pakistan can count it as a moral victory, they will need much more in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.
Australia have named an unchanged XI. Smith and Handscomb were among the runs in the first test but it’ll be David Warner who’ll be keenly watched. The swashbuckling opener has had an indifferent 2016 and will hope to end this year and start the next one on a personal high. Nic Maddinson has now failed to get going in 2 tests and will know that he cannot afford another failure. Their spearhead, Starc, will be playing his first Boxing Day Test and will look to continue his fine run. The MCG is a huge ground and the pitch is expected to offer a bit more to the bowlers. The batsmen will have to apply themselves in order to make meaningful contributions.
Pakistan will know that the runs need to flow from the top of the order. Misbah, as usual, needs to take the onus on himself and make sure that his team doesn’t self-destruct as they often tend to do. Azhar and Younis will look to make bigger scores while the rest also have to consistently punch above their weights. Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz are certainties in the XI but Rahat Ali might just make way for Imran Khan who will provide variety to the pace attack. Though Pakistan fought back well last week, they are still the underdogs in this game and will need to consistently sustain the pressure on Australia to have any chance of ending the year on a high.