It is the first time since October 1998 that Australia have landed on Pakistan soil for a Test series. Hence, it is the start of a historic Test series.
Pakistan have had a very good run in Test cricket in 2021. They won seven and lost just two. Their two losses came against New Zealand at the start of the year and then against West Indies in their first game of the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23. But after that, they won three games in a row and seem to be in a good position in the current WTC cycle.
Australia have had a fabulous start to this WTC cycle. They absolutely thrashed England in the Ashes 2021-22 as they won 4-0. However, this is Australia’s first overseas Test series since the 2019 Ashes series in England. In 2018 and 2019, Australia played nine away Tests, winning three, losing five, and drawing one.
- Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test
- Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
- March 4-8
Head to head record heavily favours Australia
As far as head-to-head records are concerned, Australia are ahead with 33 wins. Meanwhile, Pakistan have won 15 and 18 games have ended in a draw. However, Australia have won just two Test matches in Pakistan in the history of Test cricket. Moreover, they have not beaten Pakistan away from home since the start of 2011.
Pakistan’s unbeaten record at home since 2019
Test cricket returned to Pakistan in 2019. Since then, there have been five Test matches that have been played and Pakistan have remained unbeaten. One Test match was drawn against Sri Lanka before Pakistan won four games in a row – two each against Sri Lanka (in 2019) and South Africa (in 2021).
Pakistan’s batting has been in excellent touch and they have performed really well in the longest format. The likes of Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, and Mohammad Rizwan have racked up big runs. Babar Azam didn’t have a great run and he will be looking to get back amongst the runs. Abid Ali was excellent but he has been ruled out of the series due to Acute Coronary Syndrome. Shan Masood is likely to replace him at the top. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s fast bowlers dominated 2021 in Test cricket but the absence of Hasan Ali is going to be a major blow. Shaheen Afridi will lead the attack with Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan being the frontline spinners.
On the other hand, Australia seem to have a settled combination. David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, and Steve Smith will form the fulcrum of the batting line-up. The comeback men Usman Khawaja and Travis Head impressed in the Ashes and will be a key part in the line-up. Australia have a formidable pace attack but they might have a dilemma on their bowling combination. They will need to decide if they want to go in with two fast bowlers and two spinners alongside the all-rounder in Cameron Green or three fast bowlers and the lone spinner in Nathan Lyon.
Pakistan may start as slight favourites with odds of 2.50 given that Australia haven’t played a lot of cricket away from home in the last two and a half years. Also, Pakistan have been superb at home in the recent past and have been playing some excellent cricket in the longest format. However, Australia have a quality bowling attack, one which can trouble Pakistan from all corners, and hence, they cannot be counted out. The chances for a draw remain at 4.00 odds.
Who will win the Man of the Match?
Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne might be the top contenders to be the player of the match for Australia. Meanwhile, Shaheen Afridi and Fawad could be the ones from Pakistan who could be in contention.
Fawad Alam has been in splendid touch with the bat for Pakistan in Test cricket and he has amassed 682 runs at an average 56.83 which includes four tons. Shaheen Afridi has been in terrific form across formats as well and he took 51 wickets in 10 Tests since the start of December 2020.
Pat Cummins will be the key for Australia and he took 21 wickets in four Tests in the Ashes. He could use the new ball and reverse swing to his advantage and could trouble the Pakistan batters. Also, Marnus Labuschagne has got loads of runs for the Aussies in the last two and a half years. He has amassed 2010 runs at an average of 64.83 which include six tons and 11 fifties.