AUS v PAK, 3rd Test Preview: Pakistan aims to save face against rampant Aussies
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Australia and Pakistan will face off against each other in what will be the final Test of the ongoing series. While the former will be looking for what will be a massive confidence booster in the form of a series sweep, the latter will be playing for pride, something that they have had a dearth of in overseas tours since they toured England earlier this year.
While the two matches have been quite amazing for the hosts, they have now rung in the changes with both Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe relieved from their Big Bash League commitments to play Tests for Australia. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it is also something that gives a few vibes from the Sydney wicket.
As mentioned previously, the three spinners in the Australia squad means that the SCG wicket is expected to be a turner. However, the prelude for this encounter sees the spotlight firmly on Azhar Ali. The 31-year-old fought long and hard with the bat for the visitors before his efforts were undone by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood who were simply rampant on the final day’s play in Melbourne. A sliver of the spotlight will also be on batting duo Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan who will be viewed as those players who can make a difference in what has been an overall batting failure in recent times.
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Cartwright replaces Maddinson as Lyon keeps his place
It would seem as though the time for Nic Maddinson is well and truly up. The southpaw was drafted into the side along with the likes of Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb and has not been able to make a similar impact as the others have managed thus far. Moreover, with 24-year-old Hilton Cartwright has been brought into the side for the similar role. He is viewed as one of those players who has managed to impress with both bat and ball and the Aussies are looking for someone who is able to make an impact with the bat as much as the ball.
Another surprising aspect is the fact that Nathan Lyon has fought off the odds to keep his place on the side. With spin likely to play a part in the side, the Aussies have opted to go in with two spinners as well as Cartwright providing the third spinning option.
Misbah far from finished
In recent times, 42-year-old Pakistan skipper has had to take a call on his future as Pakistan’s cricket captain. Of course, he has been pestered by the journalists about his retirement as well from time to time, but to Misbah’s credit, he has not ventured into retirement just yet and is willing to give it his all in the upcoming Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This also proves that the Pakistan skipper is far from done with his cricketing career and is raring to go in the third Test at the SCG.
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Australia has welcomed back Steve O’Keefe into the grand scheme of things once again. This comes as a surprise as the 31-year-old was not a part of the initial setup following his brawl in Sydney earlier this year. Cartwright will be the next debutant for Australia while the Aussies will stick to the similar squad that faced up to the might of the Pakistanis in the first two Tests.
In contrast to the hosts, Pakistan is expected to include the 18-year-old Mohammad Asghar in the playing XI. There will, however, be a cloud around the participation of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz who will look for rest prior to the start of the ODI and T20I series.
Steve Smith (C), Matthew Wade (WK), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Hilton Cartwright, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe
Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Sarfraz Ahmed (WK), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Younis Khan, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Asghar
1 – Matthew Wade requires four catches to complete 50 Test match catches. His counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed requires one more dismissal to complete 100 dismissals.
2 – Pakistan has won just the two matches at this venue with their last win coming in the fall of 1995.
3 – The SCG seems to be a happy hunting ground for the Aussies as they have won three of their last five Tests at this venue with the others being drawn.
9 – Mitchell Starc requires 9 wickets to complete 150 Test match wickets.
105 – Misbah-ul-Haq requires 105 runs to complete 5000 Test match runs.
142 – Sarfraz Ahmed requires 142 runs to complete 2000 Test match runs.
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