Tue, Oct 16, 9:55am by Head Editor
After securing a famous draw against Pakistan in the first Test in Dubai, Australia and their opponent travel 140 kilometres southwest to Abu Dhabi for the second match of the series.
The pitch that greeted the teams when they arrived certainly surprised the visiting Australians, who are considering playing an extra fast bowler after noticing the green tinge to the playing surface.
That green tinge has caused punters to jump on the Aussies, they’ve been backed into $3.35 to secure a win which would give them their first series win in Asia for seven years, while the hosts are $1.88 favourites and the draw is at $4.40.
The pace pairing of Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle were forced to toil hard on a flat deck in Dubai and the square in Abu Dhabi is famous for being an even flatter and dryer track than the venue for the opening Test but it certainly doesn’t look that way.
While Siddle was economical in the series opener, collecting three first Innings wickets, Starc struggled in the 40 plus degree heat, taking just the single scalp for the match.
Justin Langer now has a selection headache with the Aussie coach having to decide whether to rest his number one bowler – Starc – for the long summer coming up or now that the pitch looks green, throwing him the new ball again.
Having not won a series on Asian soil since 2011, the selectors are likely to back Starc in ahead of the uncapped Queenslander Michael Neser who would be the left-arm quick’s replacement.
The Marsh brothers have come under fire for their poor form in the first Test, with Shaun making scores of seven and a duck and his younger brother and vice-captain Mitchell contributing 12 runs in the first innings before he joined his brother in the changing rooms without scoring in the second Innings.
Mitch may be called upon with the ball more than the 10 overs he bowled in Dubai if the pitch does suit his medium pace but whatever he does with the ball, his side needs more output with the bat in hand from both him and his older brother.
The scrutiny will only intensify for the brothers if they both fail to deliver in this second Test. Shaun has averaged just 16 runs in his past nine Tests outside Australia while Mitchell has averaged 29 with the bat in his last 15 games and an even more concerning stat is his bowling average, which has ballooned to 75 in the same period.
Speaking of scrutiny, that’s exactly what Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is facing at the moment after he had the opportunity to make Australia follow on in the opener but didn’t and then watched on as the Aussies batted out the final day and a half for a courageous draw.
The wicket-keeper can appease the cricketing loving nation with a win here which would also seal the series.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur called is set to hand damaging batsman Fakhar Zaman, who made a quick-fire 170 in last month’s Asian Cup Final, his maiden Test cap after Imam ul-Haq suffered a finger injury while question marks remain over left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz who failed to take a single wicket in Dubai.
While the pitch looks green now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it turn brown quickly, which means that Australia’s spin bowling pairing of Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland will need big games.
Plenty will also be expected of Marnus Labuschagne’s legbreaks and potentially fellow part timer Travis Head, who bowled just a single over in the first Test but made a crucial 72 runs with the bat in the second Innings, helping the baggy greens save the game.
Suggested Bet: Azhar Ali to score 50 in the 1st Innings: $2.40
Azhar Ali $4
Mohammad Hafeez $5
Fakhar Zaman $5
Haris Sohail $5.50
Asad Shafiq $6
Babar Azam $7
Usman Salahuddin $8
Mohammad Rizwan $9
Usman Khawaja $3.75
Aaron Finch $5
Shaun Marsh $5.50
Travis Head $6
Mitchell Marsh $6.50
Tim Paine $8
Marnus Labuschagne $9
Michael Neser $15
Yasir Shah $8
Azhar Ali $10
Bilal Asif $10
Mohammad Hafeez $11
Mohammad Abbas $11
Shadab Khan $11
Mitchell Starc $12
Nathan Lyon $12
Usman Khawaja $13
Aaron Finch $15
Jon Holland $15
Peter Siddle $15
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