The opening Test match between Pakistan and Australia was played under an emotional shadow so when the two sides meet in the second match of the three in Karachi on Saturday we will be hoping for a more intense contest.
The first match in the series was drawn so both teams begin this one knowing that whoever wins it will be guaranteed a share of the spoils at the very least. These are two proud nations who will want to get their hands on a win here.
When they went into the series the first thing the Pakistan players had to do was ensure they batted well. That is usually the area which lets them down in this format of the game despite the quality of player they have at their disposal but the lead up to the opening game was all about the Pakistan Super League. It isn’t always easy to change from bashing everything out of the park to utilising a defensive technique that stands up to scrutiny.
They were probably helped in that regard with the pitch in Rawalpindi which probably wasn’t up to the mark of what you would want from a Test strip, but despite that they still had to bat a number of overs and they were able to do that. Given how flat the pitch was it is hard to assess their bowlers in that opening match, although the one thing you would say is that they kept to their task pretty well despite getting nothing in terms of assistance.
I think given the emotions that would naturally have been in overdrive during that opening match for the Australians nobody would have condemned them if they had downed tools and sacked the game off, so they deserve credit for sticking to their task even though there was never any opening of a chance of a result in the match. They will have been able to do their mourning of a couple of legends and will be looking to come out and put in a performance that is a tribute to those heroes.
They will certainly be hoping there is more in this Karachi wicket for the bowlers than they got in the opening match. You sense that Australia are going well enough with the bat in this format so if they can find something with the ball to create an opening they will be confident of being able to win the match. They will need to make sure they bat well again though, especially in the early stages of this match as runs keep teams alive in this part of the world.
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Pakistan were without Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali for the opening match of the series but they have both tested negative for Covid now and are likely to come into the side for this second game. Pakistan will be unchanged apart from those two returning.
Australia have confirmed they will make one change to their side which sees a debut being given out to Mitchell Swepson, which is ironic given that he looked up to the last Shane Warne who sadly passed last week. He comes in for Josh Hazlewood.
I think everyone concerned will have been disappointed with the pitch that was used for the opening match of the series but I don’t think that will necessarily mean that the wicket for this one will go completely the opposite way. I do think it will wear as the match goes on but it will do it naturally rather than start out as anything it shouldn’t so I’ve got to think that certainly in the first three innings or so there will be runs to be had.
The last but one match that was staged here was in 2019 where Pakistan scored more than 500 in the third innings so the run line for this one at 1015.5 looks a little on the low side to me. Were we to get three scored approaching 300 we would only need 150 of so in the final innings which should be attainable for these sides. Test cricket is still new in Pakistan again so I’m sure subconsciously the powers that be will want as many supporters as possible to see the game so the pitch should be good for much of it. I like the over here.
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