Venue: The Gabba, Brisbane
Date: Thursday, November 21 – Monday, November 25, 2019
This tour has not gone the way that Pakistan would have liked when they touched down on Australian soil in late October. They were able to win the first match – a 20 over affair at the Bankstown Oval against a Cricket Australia XI – but that warmup contest remains their only win of the tour to date. While they were able to pick up a couple more exhibition draws, the T20I series was won 2-0 by the hoses (with a further match ruled a no contest because of rain). That means that the most traditional form of the game is the area where Pakistan will have to win to take some positive momentum home.
The big news coming out of the Australian camp is that fast bowler James Pattinson will not play in the first Test against Pakistan. This is due to Pattinson being found guilty of his third code of conduct breach this year. The breach – which was a level-two offense regarding personal abuse of a player – triggered a one-match ban with captain Tim Paint saying that Pattinson has “let himself down”. This is clearly a big issue for Pattinson given his repeat offender status and it asks real questions about whether he can be trusted for big match selection going forward.
The other big news is that the 14-man squad contains Cameron Bancroft, a player many through would miss out on Test match selection given his poor form for Western Australia this season. The batting selection around David Warner will be critical for the home team here.
Could Pakistan really name a 16-year-old in the lineup to face Australia? That is the question many are asking this week after Naseem Shah has roared into the selection frame after a sensational display against Australia A in Perth last weekend. Shah – a bowler with a lively arm – would be taking Test match bowling to a whole new place if he is selected, but an unscoutable weapon like the youngster might be just what Pakistan need to have the element of surprise on an Australian team that has been dialed in no matter what form of the game they have played in this season.
The Pakistani batting unit is a skilled one. Captain Azhar Ali has 15 Test centuries on hie record, while Asad Shafiq and the bang in-form Babar Azam are also both well capable of taking over a Test while at the crease.
Australia are the heavy favourites here with BetXchange, something that makes sense given their dominance and their home country advantage for this first Test. There are some interesting individual lines on the game and the much hyped Azam is someone who needs to be scrutinized before a bet is placed. He is a thumper of a batsman, but there are questions about his ability to be consistent at Test level. Plump instead for Azhar (3.00) or even Imam Ul-Haq (4.50) as the top Pakistani batsman in the first innings as Azam still only averages 35 runs per innings in Test match cricket.