Following a resounding victory at the Gabba, in-form Australia look set to seal the deal under the Adelaide Oval’s shimmering lights to get hold of their first Test trophy of the summer. A commanding innings win in Brisbane came briskly with the home side totally unruffled by a depleted performance from their visitors. They now go into the second and last Test of the series with a boosted team morale and a positive, confident that you only get on your home turf after a series of triumphs on the trot.
Day-night Tests has been the chatter around the cricketing fraternity for the last ten days or so as India played host to its first-ever under-lights Test match. The fixture was a massive success as throngs upon throngs of cricket fanatics filled up Kolkata’s historic Eden Gardens. India cruised through that game as they continue along the merry way in the World Test Championship, sitting atop the points table by a hefty margin.
The limelight now shifts back to the Adelaide Oval - the pioneering venue of day-night Test Cricket. This picturesque ground is set to host its fourth Test match under lights. Incredibly, Pakistan will be playing their first Test at the venue for nearly 30 years. The last time they trudged upon these South Australian shores, in 1990, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram partnered to put up that famous 191-run stand for the sixth wicket.
The present Pakistani outfit, however, seems outdated and ill-prepared for the conditions Down Under. They deceived everyone with an incredibly disciplined first session on Day 1 of the first Test. From then onwards, though, the Greenshirts totally lost the plot as they stumbled and staggered to an agonizing and deflating defeat.
The inexperienced bowling battery was taken to the cleaners by a well-set Australian batting line that batted for long hours under the scorching Brisbane sun to torture the tourists. The batsmen flopped first up but showed greater promise in the second innings with Babar Azam tonning up in a masterful knock. Haris Sohail’s frailties outside off-stump were exposed by Mitchell Starc who had the southpaw nicking to the wicket-keeper in both innings for low scores.
Lots of eyebrows were raised when Mohammad Abbas, the demolisher of Australia in the Emirates not so long ago, was sidelined from the first match’s playing XI. Such heavy was the criticism on the selection that it is next to certain that Abbas will be featuring in Adelaide with the pink ball. The paceman has a wonderful ability to bowl with a nagging control and extract just enough movement off the seam to challenge either of the two edges. Under overcast conditions with a pinkish cherry, Abbas will be more than just a handful. Azhar also suggested that he could be moving down to the No.3 position which suggests that Imam-ul-Haq is highly likely to get a recall at the top of the order.
Pakistan Probable XI: 1 Shan Masood, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Azhar Ali (capt), 4 Babar Azam, 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 8 Yasir Shah, 9 Shaheen Afridi, 10 Mohammad Abbas, 11 Naseem Shah/Muhammad Musa
Australia, on the other hand, will be looking forward to doing well in this game as this is the first time they will be featuring in back-to-back pink-ball Tests. They are set to clash with their trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand, at Perth next month. While the format is still trying to find its feet around the world it is clear it is seen as a key part of the future of the game in Australia. There has been much discussion about the extraordinarily disappointing crowd numbers at Brisbane for the first Test. But a day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval is bound to allure huge chunks of the general public for this marquee event.
Australia’s batting right on cue in the first Test as they piled up a gargantuan 580 runs to totally bat Pakistan out of the game. Marnus Labuschagne, the newly-found starboy further cemented his spot in the side following a magnificent century in the first innings. Steve Smith’s rare failure came as a surprise as he fell to a mere 4 runs, scalped by Yasir Shah for the 7th time in the Tests.
James Pattinson, who was left out of the 1st match due to disciplinary reasons by Cricket Australia is now available for selection. However, Starc’s seven-fer in the 1st match might trump Pattinson’s chances and the latter might as well needs to wait till the series against New Zealand to make a permanent case for himself in the Test side. As suggested by their coach, Justin Langer, Australia are likely to feature with the same XI.
Australia Probable XI: 1 David Warner, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Matthew Wade, 7 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood