The last time that Pakistan had managed to beat Australia in a Test Down Under, Javed Miandad was still an active cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar had only eight Test centuries and Imran Khan was yet to enter politics.
1995 was the last time Pakistan had managed to beat Australia on their home territory. Since then, Pakistan have lost 13 Tests on in the country on the bounce and let us be honest, it doesn’t seem like they are going to win one any time soon. Not after their effort in the first Test in Brisbane where they went down by an innings and five runs and certainly not after a quick glance at Australia’s record in pink-ball Tests.
The hosts have won each one of the five day-night Tests that they have been a part of and have the most experience of playing with a pink ball than any other international team. But stranger things have happened in cricket and if Pakistan really want to win they will have to play out of their skins to give Australia any sort of a fight when these two teams lock horns in Adelaide.
As clinical as Australia were in the first test, Pakistan looked out of options. Their exclusion of Mohammad Abbas was probably the most talked-about topic and they struggled without him. He is coming back in Adelaide probably at the expense of Imran Khan, who looked woefully out of sorts. But how much of an impact Abbas will be able to make with the pink ball remains to be seen. He has played just one day/night Test so far where he could only manage three wickets.
Abbas though has a terrific record against Australia. He returned 17 wickets against them at an average in the last Test series in Dubai and will be wanting a repeat of that performance come Friday.
There were a few bright spots in the batting for Pakistan. Asad Shafiq looked assured in the first dig, while Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan put on a stellar show in the second stint. Azhar Ali, who has a triple century in day-night tests, will want to brush off any cobwebs and make a difference.
It is not going to be easy though. Azhar has played just three Tests so far this year where he averages a lowly 11.17. He does not play any other format and lack of match practice is showing in his batting. Same is the case with Shan Masood, who although has got starts in a lot of the matches he has played this year, hasn’t always carried on.
Imam-ul-Haq will come back for the second Test and though he has played just one Test this year, he has been a consistent perform for Pakistan in the shorter formats. He will want to claim a permanent place in the Test side as well.
The onus in such a case once again falls on the shoulders of Babar and Shafiq. The duo are the top two run-getters for Pakistan since the start of 2018 and that is showing. Both showed their mettle in Brisbane and will be keen on repeating their performance. They, however, will need some of the other batsmen to rise to the occasion as well.
The bowling was also pretty ordinary in Brisbane. Naseem Shah was pacy but wayward, Shaheen Shah Afridi lacked control and Imran was all over the place. Yasir Shah was the only bowler who looked threatening and he will want to put up a similar show in Adelaide.
The pink ball has historically done slightly more and that is likely to be the case come Friday as well. The pacers have picked 84 of the 103 wickets to fall in the three pink-ball Tests in Adelaide striking every 50.7 deliveries. The spinners, in comparison, have a strike-rate of 73.3.
For Australia the headache is much lesser. Joe Burns and David Warner put on a clinic at the top in Adelaide while Marnus Labuschagne was incredible enroute his maiden Test century. Steve Smith missed out and having been reminded by Yasir as to how many he has dismissed him, Smith will want to set the records straight. His record in day/night tests is also exemplary. In four pink-ball Tests, he averages a healthy 50.63 with three half-centuries and a hundred to his name.
The bowling attack will once again be led by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. Both have been excellent with the pink ball in hand. While Starc has returned 17 wickets in three day/night Tests at this venue striking every 33.4 balls, Cummins has a bowling strike-rate of 30.3 in day/night Test matches.
Australia have not once lost a pink-ball Test and they will want to assure the record does not change in Adelaide.
Pakistan: While Azhar was coy in the press-conference regarding team selection, he stated that Mohammad Abbas will for sure come in for the Adelaide Test along with Imam-ul-Haq. Azhar, himself will drop down to No.3 in the batting order.
Australia: The hosts will play the same eleven that routed Pakistan in the opening Test.
Australia (Playing XI): David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine(w/c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Pakistan (Probable XI): Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali(c), Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan(w), Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah/Muhammad Musa Khan, Mohammad Abbas