What a finish it was to the first Test between Pakistan and Australia in the UAE last week! After their chances looked grim throughout the first four days, the Aussies held on for a draw on the last day of play to keep the series alive heading into the second Test match starting this Tuesday, the 16th of October from Abu Dhabi. We take a look at the game and give our betting tips below.
A major concern heading into the 2nd Test for the Australians was the health and fatigue levels of spearhead quick Mitchell Starc. Selectors were weighing up resting the left arm quick for the 2nd Test in preparation for the Aussies super important Summer Test series against India, however, Starc has declared himself ready to go for the match.
Starc will be important to the Aussies chances in Abu Dhabi, as the wicket upon the team’s arrival in Abu Dhabi was well-grassed and unlike the UAE pitches we’ve come to know in recent history. Whether or not the grass remains on the pitch by game time is another question, regardless, the pitch looks a lot more conducive to pace bowling than Dubai did a week ago.
The fragility of the Aussie batting lineup was a bit of an issue in the first Test. Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch got the team off to a great start in their opening innings, compiling 142 for the first wicket, however, no other player was able to score over 12 in the first dig. Finch was solid again in the second innings, scoring 49 while Khawaja was the hero for the Aussies with a match saving 141. Travis Head redeemed his first innings duck with a score of 72 while Tim Paine was crucial down the stretch with 61*.
The obvious batsman on the chopping block heading into Abu Dhabi would have to be debutant Marnus Labuschagne, who scored just 13 runs over his two innings. Matty Renshaw is waiting in the wings and would allow Khawaja to drop down to his preferred position at number three and also give relief to Mitch Marsh, who looked a little out of his depth at number four.
Pakistan will be disappointed they weren’t able to capture the first Test win, but should be buoyed by their dominance over the first four days. Both Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail were fantastic in the first innings as they notched up centuries while paceman Mohammad Abbas captured seven wickets in the match adding valuable support his team’s frontline spinners.
Yasir Shah will once again be the key man for Pakistan. After going wicketless in the first innings, the leg spinner gave his team a chance to win on the final day, taking four wickets and bowling 43 overs throughout the final two days.
Can’t see another draw occurring here, especially if the wicket remains as green as reports are suggesting it is. We would have thought that the price for the Aussies would have come in slightly given Mitchell Starc being available for the game combined with the current state of the wicket. At $3.40 we think they are great value here. Their batting line-up should be bolstered by the addition of Renshaw and everyone else sliding down a spot in the order.
The Aussies were unlucky with the toss in the first innings, and would have had a much better chance at winning that game if they were batting first. We think if they bat first in Abu Dhabi, they can post a good total and if they get unlucky and have to bowl first again, the chances of Starc and co. picking up crucial early wickets on a green top is much higher.
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