Australia have made changes in the squad that faces Pakistan in the third and final test in Sydney starting tomorrow. Left arm off spinner Steve O’Keefe takes the place of Jackson Bird while uncapped all-rounder Hilton Cartwright comes in to take the place of Nick Maddinson. Bird is obviously rested, after his lion-hearted performance that proved crucial in Australia’s dramatic win in the second test. The pitch in Sydney does not offer too much for pace bowlers. That explains Australia’s inclusion of two spinners. Pakistan too will be tempted to play multiple spinners, as it looks like the only way forward for them. Can they win this test match? If you are a supporter, you can think they can win. However, if you are into cricket betting, think so at your own peril.
Preview – Australia
Australia won primarily because of the aggressive batting of their top-three batters and clinical fast bowling by the three quick bowlers. David Warner, Usman Khawaja and skipper Steve Smith usually take the team to safety with their assured batting. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Bird then tilt the match in Australia’s favour. Their performance in fact masks the shortfalls of the team. If Warner, Khawaja and Smith get out cheaply, what will be Australia’s response? Or, if the pacers have an off-day, what is going to happen? It is more likely to happen in Sydney, which is the most subcontinent-like pitch in Australia. Despite the pitch, Australia must get the benefit of doubt in cricket betting calculations.
Preview – Pakistan
There are reports that this could be the final test match of Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. He is 42 and is finding hard to regain the batting form. The sight of a batting-friendly wicket at Sydney must encourage him. Spinner Yasir Shah too must be eager to exhibit his skills. He must step up, especially because the much fancied Pak pace bowlers have performed well below the expectations. He has had a lacklustre tour so far, having taken just six wickets in two test matches. Left-arm spinning all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz could play in Sydney. Pakistan batsmen flourished in isolation in this series. They have lacked a collective effort. The Sydney pitch is the best they can expect for making their mark in the series.
Australia are favourites to win this match. Don’t be too adventurous in cricket betting. Probably the best result Pakistan can hope for is a draw.
Photo Credit: The Indian Express