The first Test of the two-match series between Pakistan and Australia begins today in Dubai. Players of both sides are young and lack experience. Pakistani players have some edge as they have the experience of playing in UAE’s hot weather.
After the disappointing performance in the Asia Cup, the selectors have called veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, to add some experience and middle-order strength to the team.
In the 2014 ‘home series’ in the UAE, Pakistan thrashed Australia 2-0. Pakistan won both Tests comprehensively, the first by 221 runs and the second by 356 runs, although that team had such players as Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson.
Australian cricket team has not yet recovered from the effects of the ball-tampering incident in South Africa which led to bans on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
For a long time, the Australian batting revolved around former captain Smith and vice-captain Warner. In the last five years, Smith and Warner scored around 35 percent of Australia’s runs.
Last year during the Ashes series, Smith was called Australia’s best batsman since Sir Donald Bradman. From 2013 till his ban this year, Smith scored more Test runs (5,940) than anyone in the world. Behind him are England’s skipper Joe Root (5,659) and Warner (5,380).
In these years, Smith scored 23 hundreds, five more than Virat Kohli’s and Warner’s 18.
The ability of the two Australian batsmen to convert 50s into 100s is very impressive. Every second time they reached 50, they went on to score a century.
Smith led Australia from the front. He posted 2540 runs at 51.8 in 30 Tests without the leadership role. After replacing Michael Clarke, Smith scored 3,659 runs at 70.4 in 34 Tests.
Spinners will play a decisive role in the series and Pakistan have a good combination of Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Hafeez and Haris Sohail to restrict Australian batting.
Yes, Australian spinner Nathan Lyon has experience of 78 Tests, but Yasir and Shadab have more variation than Lyon and Jon Holland. Yasir took 12 wickets in the 2-0 series win over Australia in the UAE four years ago.
Before the current series, twenty-three Test series have been played between the two nations. Australia won 12, Pakistan six, while five were drawn.
A total of 62 Test matches have been played between the two countries. Australia have the edge with 31 wins. Pakistan have won only 14 matches.
Pakistan’s former captain Javed Miandad is the most successful batsman in the bilateral series with 1,797 runs. He hit six hundreds and seven fifties, averaging 47.28.
Allan Border is highest run-getter from Australia against Pakistan with 1,666 runs at an average of 43.69. He struck six centuries and eight half-centuries.
Great leg-spinner Shane Warne took 90 wickets in 15 matches at an average of 20.17. Imran Khan with 64 wickets in 18 Tests is Pakistan’s most successful bowler against Australia in Tests.
Australia’s 624-8 is the highest innings total. It was scored at Melbourne during Pakistan’s tour to Australia in 2016-17. Pakistan scored 624 runs against Australia at Adelaide in December 1983.
In October 2002 in Sharjah, Pakistan were bowled out for just 53 and 59. Those are the lowest innings totals from Pakistan against Australia. The Kangaroos scored their lowest total 80 in Karachi way back in 1956. Pakistan also bowled out Australia for 88 at Leeds in 2010. Miandad played 25 Tests against Australia, and led Pakistan in nine of those.