Hosts Pakistan keen to start afresh against Australia
Pakistan will look to start their home season when they take on Australia in the opening game of two-match series on Sunday. The game is scheduled to be played at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Pakistan has only lost series at their adopted home i.e. in UAE and have maintained a strong record in these conditions.
On the other hand, Australia will look to rebuild and put in a good performance after ball-tampering saga that saw the side embroiled in a big turmoil earlier this year. Australia Test Captain Tim Paine and Head Coach Justin Langer have insisted that atleast four uncapped players are set to make their debut in this game.
Pakistan will be keen to put in a good performance after below-par Asia Cup campaign. The hosts have suffered a setback of sorts as Shadab Khan has been sidelined due to a groin problem. The team management might go for Bilal Asif for this game. Usman Salahuddin or Mohammad Hafeez might have to fight hard for a place in the final XI.
Babar Azam will be desperate to produce a big score in this series. He has put in decent performances in England but will need to produce big hundreds to help Pakistan produce victories on a regular basis. Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed will also be keen to get runs and find form in this series.
Mohammad Abbas has been fabulous form with the ball in hand and impressed everyone with his control on tour to England. The right-arm quick is certain starter for the game while Hasan Ali or Wahab Riaz might be slotted into the side as second seamer. Faheem Ashraf has proved to be valuable as genuine all-rounder who contributed with bat and ball on Pakistan’s tour to England.
Travis Head and Aaron Finch are set to make their debut for Australia in Test cricket. The duo has done well in limited-overs cricket and will be keen to make impression in their debut game. Marnus Labuschagne did well in the warm-up game and has been regarded as quality player of spin bowling. Usman Khuwaja, Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh are experienced players in the batting department. The trio will need to bring their A-game to the table if Australia aim to get a result out of this series.
Pace bowler Michael Neser played in the warm-up game and will share the new-ball with Mitchell Starc. Jon Holland might play as second spinner after his impressive performance in the warm-up game. Premier off-spinner Nathan Lyon will be determined to produce a good performance for Australia. Mitchell Starc will be looking forward to bowl in these conditions.
Pakistan vs Australia is always proved to be an interesting contest as both team possess strong bowling attacks. It will be closely contested series as both sides will try to fight hard to eke out a result.
Pakistan vs Australia 2018
Likely XI: Tim Paine (captain &wk), Usman Khuwaja, Matt Renshaw/Marnus Labuschagne, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Aaron Finch, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland, Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc.
Likely XI: Azhar Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain &wk), Mohammad Hafeez/Usman Salahuddin, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Faheem Ashraf, Bilal Asif/Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali/Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Abbas, Yasir Shah.