Australian cricket has had a turnaround of sorts in the year 2019. After a fine performance in the ODI World Cup in England where they reached the semis, Australia managed to retain the Ashes as the series was drawn 2-2.
In the meantime, Pakistan cricket has been on the decline this year. They failed to qualify for the semis in the World Cup and have recently been whitewashed 3-0 in a T20I series at home against a depleted Sri Lanka.
Hence, when Pakistan tour Australia for a 2-match Test series, the home side will begin as overwhelming favorites. Australia is terrific at home and will be holding all the aces in the 1st Test of the series at The Gabba, Brisbane, which begins on November 21.
What’s more is that in the last 5 Tests between Australia and Pakistan, Australia has lost just once and won three matches. Furthermore, Pakistan has a terrible record in Test matches in Australia – they have never won a Test series here. In fact, in the last four Test series between the two sides in Australia, Pakistan has been whitewashed 3-0 every single time. Thus, things look ominous for Pakistan this time.
Tim Paine has a solid team at his disposal and they will be a handful at home. Steve Smith, who scored a record-breaking 774 runs in the 4 Ashes Tests he played this year, would be licking his lips to make merry at home against Pakistan. The track at the Gabba should suit his batting. Marnus Labuschagne is another solid middle-order batsman that Australia has found and he would look to continue his form. The likes of Matthew Wade, Marcus Harris and even out of form opener David Warner may have an impact given that they are playing at home.
Australia’s biggest strength, though, is their bowling. Pat Cummins has been the most successful bowler across formats in the world in the past two years and will be the main threat for Pakistan in the 1st Test. Then there is Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon to make things even more difficult for them.
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed hence has a lot to do. He would hope that star batsman Babar Azam leads the batting unit. Some support from the likes of opener Imam-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali would be crucial.
Pakistan’s bowling has always been its strength. Seamer Mohammad Amir is in form and will be the one to watch out for. The track at Brisbane should aid his swing and seam. Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas would have to contribute as well or the Australian batting will dominate. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s role might be critical if he gets some grip on the surface.
Match prediction: Australia vs Pakistan, 1st Test
The track at Brisbane for the 1st Test between Australia and Pakistan should be a true one – good for batting initially with help for seam bowlers throughout. The team batting first should have a good time and the 1st innings totals by both the teams should be above 350 runs. Batting last will be tough on this pitch and getting even 200 might be difficult.
Australia has not lost a Test match at Brisbane since 1988 when West Indies thrashed them by 9 wickets. They have dominated heavily on this venue and will be the overwhelming favorites to clinch the match against Pakistan. What makes matters worse is that Pakistan’s recent Test form has been poor – they lost 2-1 to New Zealand at home and were thrashed 3-0 by South Africa this year. Pakistan will start in the ICC World Test Championship with this series against Australia and thing don’t look to be promising.
Given Australia’s recent form, their all-round strength and their dominance against Pakistan at home, they are the likely winners for this Test match.