Pakistan has not won a Test match in Australia for so long that Donald Trump went out of the spotlight, came back into it, went out again and came back as President-elect while we’ve been waiting for an elusive win. Ammar Ashraf lists out the things that #TeamMisbah needs to do to avoid another Aussie nightmare tour.
Since 2012 there are have been 839 dismissals in Australia, out of which 357 (47%) were caught by slips, gully or wicket keeper. In order to succeed Pakistani players fielding behind the wicket need to grab chances, especially in the first 25 overs of the innings, as once the ball gets old it will be difficult for bowlers to seam and swing.
Pakistan needs to bat sensibly against Starc and Hazlewood as both are averaging 13 and 15 in their opening spells, with a strike rates of 25 and 45 in the last 14 innings respectively. Hazlewood’s economy rate in these spells is 2.00 RPO which suggests his aim will be to bowl tight lines and allow Starc to attack the Pakistani batters.
Since 2012, the Australian top order has scored at 4.00 RPO in the first 25 overs of the innings, averaging a phenomenal 48 runs per wicket. Pakistan’s opening bowlers will have to bowl a tight line and length to stop the Aussies from getting a flying start. They should avoid bowling short-pitched deliveries in particular as Aussie batters have a tendency to score heavily on the backfoot.
This one is slightly tricky because of the day/night test at the ‘Gabba. At MCG and SCG, records indicate batting in the first two innings is easier compared to the 3rd and 4th innings, which suggests that one should win the toss and bat. At Brisbane, the record over the last ten years suggests captains prefer to bat first and put huge totals in the first innings, as evidenced by the fact that the first innings’ average runs per wicket is 49. However, this particular match will be a day/night one, and it will be interesting to see how the team management plan for the third session of each day, which will be played under lights. Teams need to score heavily in the first two sessions as the ball tends to swing and seam more under floodlights which makes things difficult for batters.
At all 3 venues, the records since January 2006 suggest pacers have done much better than spinners, especially in the third and fourth innings. It will be interesting to see how Pakistani leggie Yasir Shah bowls in this series, as visiting spinners often find it difficult to bowl in Australia. Aussie batters don’t let spinners settle down and look to attack them early and often. Since 2004, out of ten visiting spinners only Sri Lankan leggie Upal Chandana averages in the twenties, with no other bowler going under an average of thirty-three. Recent First Class matches at SCG suggest that as per the ground’s traditional reputation, spinners will enjoy bowling in the third and fourth innings as the wicket deteriorates towards the end of the game.
Since Jan 2011, the trio of David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith have scored 24 hundreds on Australian soil, with only one coming in a losing cause (Warner’s 123* vs New Zealand). Their combined average during this period is 63, scored at a brisk strike rate of 70 (RPO of 4.20). The key to any success against them would be to not give them loose deliveries and bowl tight lines. Let them make mistakes by bowling economical spells. As mentioned previously, Aussies batters have a tendency to score heavily on short-pitched deliveries, so bowling on a good length would be imperative. That would allow for a greater impact when the bowlers pitch them full as the recent dismissals of both Khawaja and Warner suggest that they tend to edge full length deliveries.
For Pakistan batters, we have already noted that they need to see out the opening burst by the Australians. However, the ideal time for Pakistani batters to score runs at good rate is between overs 50 – 80 just like they did vs England during this summer. At Lord’s, Pakistan’s first innings’ run rate between overs 50 – 80 was 4.00. At the Oval, the run rate during this period was 4.10. Pakistan’s middle order will need to replicate their Lord’s and Oval performances if they want to win matches in Australia.
If Younis Khan scores a century on this tour he will join Rahul Dravid as the only batsman to score hundreds against all test playing nations at their home venue. His batting also remains the talisman for this side, who all seem to elevate their game when Younis Khan is in form. He has a point to prove after the memories of his lone, and underwhelming, tour Down Under left a question mark against his name.