Australian tour will be game-changer for Pakistani Cricket
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Pakistani spectators are truly jubilant as a long-awaited tour of Australia is becoming a reality in the last week of February. It was September 1998 when Australia last visited Pakistan and the local spectators had to wait for almost 24 years to see the live performance of one of the best teams in the cricketing world. Above all, Australia’s decision to send the best possible side to Pakistan has increased this jubilation manifold. Pakistan has been playing its home series in UAE for the last 12 years, so, none of the Australian players has ever visited Pakistan before for a bilateral series.
The series will begin with three test matches, which will be played in Rawalpindi, Karachi, and Lahore. The first test match will start on March 04, the second match on March 12, and the third match will be played in Lahore starting from March 21. The series also includes three One Day matches. All three ODIs will be played in Rawalpindi on March 29, March 31, and April 02. The only T20I will also be played in Rawalpindi on April 05.
In the bilateral Test series, the success has been favouring Australia. Till now Pakistan and Australia have played 66 Test matches, out of which, Australia have won 33, Pakistan wwere successful in 15 and 18 matches were drawn. Out of these 33 victories, Australia have won 25 matches on home grounds.
Pakistan has faced Australia in 17 matches on the home grounds. Out of these matches, Pakistan has won 7, Australia was successful in 4 and 6 matches ended without result. Due to disturbed law and order situation, Pakistan had to play 9 test matches against Australia at neutral venues. The United Arab Emirates has hosted 6 test matches. Pakistan has won 3 test matches, Australia won 2, and 1 match was drawn. In England, two test matches were played between Australia and Pakistan in 2010. Australia won the first test match and the second test brought success for Pakistan. In Colombo, Sri Lanka one test match was played in 2002/2003 and that was won by Australia.
Australia is coming to Pakistan after a convincing victory against England in the Ashes. Australia won 4 test matches and one test match was miraculously saved by the tale-enders to convert into a draw. Almost all the players who were part of the Ashes are visiting Pakistan. Australian batting lineup consists of time and again tested Stephen Smith and David Warner, Young sensation Marnus Labuschagne, and Inform batters like Travis Head and Usman Khawaja. In the fast bowling, they are being supported by Captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, and Michael Neser.
Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green are the two genuine batting all-rounders who have been included in the Australian side. Two wicketkeepers, Alex Carey and Josh Inglis have been selected for the series. Keeping in view the importance of spin attack on the historically spinning tracks in Pakistan, three genuine spinners have been included in the side, which includes experienced Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, and Mitchell Swepson. Opening batter Marcus Harris is the only player in the side who still has to cement his place in the side by showing some consistency in the performance.
Pakistan has also announced a 16 member squad for the home series and five players have been kept as reserves. Through his consistent performance in domestic cricket and PSL, Shan Masood has been able to regain his place in the Pakistani team. He will be the first opening choice for Pakistan in the absence of Abid Ali, who is going through a rehabilitation process after successful angioplasty two months ago. Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafiq are the other two openers who have been selected for the series. Pakistani batting lineup will be relying on the experience and skills of Captain Babar Azam, Vice-Captain Muhammad Rizwan, veterans Azhar Ali, and Fawad Alam. Saud Shakeel will probably have to wait for more to get a chance in the coming series to show his batting skills in the test arena. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hassan Ali, and Haris Rauf have been included in the side as genuine fast bowlers. In the spinner’s category Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, and Zahid Mehmood have been selected. Faheem Ashraf and Muhammad Nawaz have been selected as all-rounders in the team.
In the reserve category five players have been selected, which include former Captain Sarfraz Ahmed, great leg spinner Yasir Shah, fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Muhammad Abbas, and middle-order batsman Kamran Ghulam. Yasir Shah, once declared one of the great leg spinners in the world, is striving hard to regain his form and fitness. During the last three years, he has played 13 test matches and has been able to get only 33 wickets, which is far below his capability.
Experts say that this series is in real terms a full-strength visit by any team after the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. This series will open a window for other teams who are reluctant to visit Pakistan for many years due to the uncertain law and order situation. Pakistan Super League has also played a pivotal role in making inroad for cricket in Pakistan. If Corona's situation remains in control in Pakistan this tour will be a game-changer for Pakistani Cricket.