It seems like an eternity ago that the Australian Test cricket team was embroiled in arguably the most controversial scandal in its long and prestigious history with the ball tampering incident in South Africa. The Aussies will play their first Test series since the debacle this month when they face off against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
The first Test gets underway Sunday, the 7th of October and will be a tough test for the new look Aussie outfit with Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft still on the sidelines. We take a look at the 1st Test and give our cricket betting tips below.
Tasmanian wicketkeeper Tim Paine will resume his role as captain of the Australian Test team after his elevation due to the Steve Smith suspension. Paine will lead a new look team to the UAE but one that’s not without experience.
Former first choice opener Matt Renshaw suffered a knock to the head while fielding in the warm-up match against Pakistan A, and was forced to sit out the remainder of the match. With a history of concussion, the Aussies will wait until the last moment to decide if he’s fit to claim one of the opening spots. The other opening berth will be given to Victorian Aaron Finch, who despite having plenty of international experience, will be making his debut in the baggy green.
There will be plenty of experience in the middle order of the Aussie line-up as Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Mitch Marsh will get the first chance to impress this weekend. They will be joined by Travis Head who will be another debutant after impressive with some runs and handy overs in the lead-up match.
Mitchell Starc will lead a relatively undermanned bowling unit which appears likely to include a third debutant in Michael Neser. He showed some good form recently and appears set to get the nod ahead of recalled paceman Peter Siddle, who hasn’t played a Test since November of 2016.
Nathan Lyon will take up his place as the frontline Aussie spinner and hope to have an impressive outing in the UAE while the final bowling spot appears to be going to fellow tweaker Jon Holland who picked up five wickets in the second innings of the warm-up match. The bowling of Mitch Marsh could definitely allow the Aussies to play two spinners as the UAE pitches are known to favour the slower bowlers.
The Pakistani team will be a similar one to the team that dismantled Australia in both Tests when they last toured the UAE. Back in November of 2014, Pakistan won the first Test by 221 runs before claiming the second by 356 runs. Azhar Ali complied 292 runs over the two Tests back in 2014 and will once again lead the Pakistani batting line-up while their bowling attack will be spin dominant with leg spinner Yasir Shah hoping to put fear through the Aussies once again. Shah picked up 12 wickets that series and will lead the home team’s bowling attack along spinner Shadab Khan and quicks Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Abbas.
Pakistan start as $1.90 favourites here and deservedly so after their dominant performance when the Australian’s last toured. Shah has had a ridiculous start to his Test career, racking up 165 wickets through just 28 matches and has shown that he can dominate on the spin friendly UAE pitches.
The inclusion of Matt Renshaw was probable even if the South African ball tampering scandal hadn’t occurred. Cameron Bancroft was already in some shaky form and Renshaw is a great player of spin. The opener smashed a brilliant 184 off 293 balls the last time he faced Pakistan and was arguably the best batsman in all of domestic first-class cricket last season. If Renshaw has recovered from his concussion, then look for him to have a strong outing in the UAE and cement his spot in the side.
Hard to look past the strong Pakistan side to win the first Test especially given how unproven this Australian side is as a unit. The spinning combination of Shah and Khan are arguably the best tandem in the world, alongside Ashwin and Jadeja from India, and their pace tandem of Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas has been serviceable throughout their last few series. Pakistan have made a home of the UAE since they began playing there in 2001, winning 15 and drawing 7 of their total 30 matches. I think they handle the undermanned Australian side this weekend.
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