Will the first test live up to all the hype?
The opening test of Australia’s summer at the Gabba in Brisbane with the forecast 28 degrees, it doesn’t get much more Australian than that! Looking to follow up their stellar-T20 International form which saw them win both series 3-0 & 2-0 against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, this test series could tell us a lot about how the Aussies are traveling in the longest format. A home advantage is always a huge plus, especially when it comes to test cricket where familiar conditions will often play into your hands. One thing the Aussies will have to be wary of is Pakistan’s fast bowling attack, they showcased their ability against Australia A in Perth where pace was the major winner. Brisbane isn’t to dissimilar, it provides plenty of pace & bounce for bowlers who can extract it from the surface which makes for an exciting contest. In the same instance, plenty of runs are on offer which probably makes Steve Smith the most dangerous batsman in this first test. While Smith has been extremely dominant over the coarse of a 4-5 year period, too many bowlers have fallen into his trap of overcompensating with their line & length. It will be interesting to see where the Pakistani seamers target Smith given that he hasn’t really shown any deficiencies in his game. David Warner gets another chance after a luckless-Ashes campaign with the bat, while South Australian skipper Travis Head also looks set to make a return to the test side. Australia is set to unleash a familiar bowling line-up featuring a very fired-up Mitchell Starc who won’t be holding back in this first test.
This Pakistan side looks a good one, especially in Australian conditions. A fast bowling attack that will definitely give the Aussie batsmen some troubles with pace and bounce, perhaps even a hint of movement and a crafty-spinner who is more than capable of cleaning up a team as the pitch starts to deteriorate. Mohammad Abbas is certainly one of the bowlers to look out for in this series, he’s already got an impressive test record with 66 wickets to his name after just 13 appearances. Two-metre giant Shaheen Afridi could be a handful as well on this Gabba surface, and Imran Khan’s impressive bowling display against Australia A where he picked up 5/32 in the first innings has flagged another possible threat. With an abundance of young fast bowlers, Pakistan’s future is looking ominously-bright. Muhammad Musa, Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah are still all teenagers yet could possibly be the key to bringing down Australia. Speaking of keys to bringing down Australia, Babar Azam has to be the batsman who makes a name for himself in the series. Everyone knows how much of a quality player he is, however his test average of 35.28 just doesn’t reflect that. Scoring an unbeaten-157 in the tour match must have been a huge confidence-booster for him, unfortunately for him he wasn’t facing Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins who will be after him in Brisbane. Back-to-back centuries for Asad Shafiq in both tour matches wasn’t overly-surprising, the 33-year-old has been a solid contributor in the test side and will need to deliver more of the same at the Gabba.
TOP 5 FANTASY PICKS – 1st test, Brisbane
- Steve Smith
- Pat Cummins
- Mitchell Starc
- Marnus Labuschagne
- Joe Burns
Wildcard pick – Travis Head
- Asad Shafiq
- Babar Azam
- Mohammad Abbas
- Shaheen Afridi
- Azhar Ali
Wildcard pick – Iftikhar Ahmed
Australia (possible) – 1. David Warner 2. Joe Burns 3. Marnus Labuschagne 4. Steve Smith 5. Travis Head 6. Matthew Wade 7. Tim Paine (c & wk) 8. Pat Cummins 9. Mitchell Starc 10. Nathan Lyon 11. Josh Hazlewood.
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Imam-ul-Haq 2. Shan Masood 3. Azhar Ali (c) 4. Asad Shafiq 5. Babar Azam 6. Iftikhar Ahmed 7. Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 8. Yasir Shah 9. Shaheen Afridi 10. Mohammad Abbas 11. Naseem Shah/Imran Khan.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.