Legspinner Mitchell Swepson will debut for Australia while Pakistan are expected to welcome back Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali
Shall we try that again? To be blunt, there were not too many redeeming qualities from the opening Test of this much-anticipated series with a docile surface – which has since been deemed ‘below average’ by the ICC – rendering it something of a non-event. Now, all eyes are on the 22 yards that will be produced at the National Stadium in Karachi, with the hope that it will be a more balanced and enticing contest.
From Australia’s point of view, they may see the opening Test as a warm-up they did not get on this tour with all the bowlers having got miles in the legs and most of the batters spending reasonable time at the crease. However, they need to be cautious that not converting starts into three figures does not become a habit.
No two ways about it, Australia’s bowlers toiled even if much of the last day was going through the motions. A single wicket for a fast bowler and just three overall (the other being a run out) is slim pickings regardless of the pitch. But this next game has been given another element of intrigue with Mitchell Swepson finally handed a Test debut.
(last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Hasan Ali is expected to come back into Pakistan’s line-up after missing the opening match with an abductor strain. It would mean the reunion of the pairing with Shaheen; the duo has claimed 88 Test wickets during 2021, of which Hasan took 41 at 16.07 in just eight outings. Hasan is a skiddy quick bowler who has not faced Australia before in Tests, so it will be a new challenge for the top order.
Faheem Ashraf’s negative Covid test the day after he was positive is a huge boost for Pakistan, and it also means they will be able to balance their side with a seam-bowling allrounder at No. 7. The other change that is likely to happen is Hasan replacing Naseem Shah.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Abdullah Shafique, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Nauman Ali, 9 Sajid Khan, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi
Cummins confirmed Australia’s XI with Swepson handed a debut and that he is replacing Josh Hazlewood. This means Mitchell Starc’s left-arm angle is retained.
Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Mitchell Swepson, 11 Nathan Lyon
Pitch and conditions
Surely, this one won’t be as flat? Both captains expected the wicket to be of more help for the spinners as the match developed, while Cummins thought reverse swing could be a factor, perhaps, from quite early in the contest given the well-worn square. There won’t be any problems with the weather this time, it’s forecast to be warm and sunny throughout.
Stats and trivia
“We didn’t get as many wickets as we would have liked but never let the run rate slip, on past tours of the subcontinent we have. We never lost control of the game. As a Test match, it’s an absolute outlier, so put it behind us and come here where we’ll probably get closer to the conditions, we would expect in a subcontinent Test.”
“We’re not frightened of Australia. The conditions are the same for both teams. The WTC points are very crucial. As a captain, I wanted us to win. The way our side dominated, and our batters scored 150+ and got wickets… So there’s nothing to panic about. We dominated.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo