Australia take on Pakistan in a two test series starting on Sunday morning and face the arduous task of trying to beat a Pakistan who have proved nearly unbeatable in their “home” territory of the UAE – where they have now played for some years since playing in Pakistan was deemed too much of a risk due a terrorist attack that occurred when Sri Lanka toured last time around.
Conditions in the UAE are totally different to anything else in world cricket. Test matches are played in largely empty stadiums that create a rather eerie atmosphere due to the lack of interest in cricket in that part of the world and the desert heat of Dubai and Sharjah provide incredibly taxing physical conditions as well as the wickets that they play on our incredibly slow and low in bounce and create quite a unique form of attritional cricket where scoring quickly is difficult and taking wickets is laborious work in the first three days of the match.
Pakistan have in the past hit upon a formula where batsman will bat “time” as opposed to looking to score with any haste and speed and look to blunt opposition attacks who get no help from the wicket and usually are in a position in days 4 and 5 to unleash their bowling expertise of high class spin, usually in the form of Yasir Shah and reverse swing for the quicker bowlers which becomes available in the back end of test match’s and can change a complexion of a match very quickly in their favour.
Both sides come into the series with problems. Australia are still missing star batsman Warner and Smith and have a very poor record playing in Asia even with these two in their line-up. Pakistan come off the back of a very disappointing Asia cup where their batsman struggled for runs and their spinners didn’t seem to offer much, and the pressure has mounted on captain and wicket keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed who has faced mounting criticism in the media.
Pakistan’s record in the UAE is simply excellent against non-Asian teams with them only losing 3 test matches’ out of 18 and being victorious on 11 of these occasions. They hold the trump cards in their spin attack of Shadab Khan and the even more influential Yasir Shah against a batting line low on confidence and form against the spinning ball.
At the time of writing Pakistan are better than even money to take the first test which looks value with both sides respective records in these conditions. If Australia are to prevail they are likely to be heavily reliant on Nathan Lyon especially with main seamers Hazelwood and Cummins out and he could well be a point of interest in the sub markets with his heavy workload and conditions likely to be more his favour than the rest of the Australian attack
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