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Match Preview – Australia vs Pakistan, ICC World Test Championship 2019, 1st Test

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Big Picture

After two one-sided T20I series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the opening Test of Australia’s home season promises much. Fingers crossed it delivers. Australia are looking to build on after retaining the Ashes in a drawn series while for Pakistan, it is their first assignment of the World Test Championship – in a country where they have never won a series and have not won a Test since 1995.

With that record, it’s tempting to suggest it should be a walkover for the home side – and it may yet turn out that way – but it’s the more competitive possibilities that are mouthwatering. Pakistan have brought three teenage quicks, with 16-year-old Naseem Shah set to debut, and there has been no shortage of talking them up. The batting also looks strong with new captain Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq having good personal memories of the last tour here in 2016-17 and Babar Azam appearing primed to kick on his Test career.

From Australia’s point of view, it’s a summer with most things back to normal compared to the fraught atmosphere of 12 months ago. Steven Smith and David Warner are back, one looking to continue Bradman-esque form and the other hoping to re-establish his Test credentials having been dominated by Stuart Broad in England.

However, it has not been a seamless build-up for Australia. The bat-off in Perth turned into more of a collapse-off, the end result is Cameron Bancroft – with a first-class average of 11 this season – is back in the Test squad. Then there was James Pattinson and his obscene language meaning he is out of this match. But quick bowlers is one thing Australia are not short of. In home conditions, the trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc could be the deciding factor.

It is an important match for the ground itself, too, with the Gabba coming under increasing pressure for its status as one of the premier Test venues in the country. It has been guaranteed the opening Test of the 2021-22 Ashes but didn’t host India last year and it is yet to be confirmed if it will host a Test next year. There is an investment on the way, but there will be interest in the crowd figures over the next few days.

Form guide

Australia LWLDW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

Pakistan LLLLW

In the spotlight

David Warner had an Ashes series to forget – 95 runs in ten innings – but there was never really any doubt that he would retain his place in the side. However, that rope cannot last forever (although the last thing the Australia selectors need at the moment is to find another opening batsman). Warner started the series with a Sheffield Shield century at the Gabba which bodes well and his T20I form was prolific. He enjoys batting in Brisbane and, 21 months after his last Test on home soil, it will be fascinating to see whether he can throw off the shackles.

Babar Azam struggled on the 2016-17 tour with 68 runs in six innings but two years on, he returns to Australia carrying the expectation of a batsman on the cusp of greatness. The limited-overs game has gone supremely well, and he showed his class in the T20Is, and now it is time he takes his game up a level in Test cricket and lifts his current average of 35.28. The hundred against Australia A was full of his best shots and promises much for the next couple of weeks.

Team news

It was pretty simple for Australia after the loss of Pattinson. Michael Neser will hope his chance comes with the pink ball.

Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Matthew Wade, 7 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Iftikhar Ahmed could slot in at No. 6 with the final decision in the pace attack likely to come down to Mohammad Abaas or Imran Khan, the latter took a five-wicket haul against Australia A.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Shan Masood, 2 Azhar Ali (capt), 3 Haris Sohail, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 8 Yasir Shah, 9 Shaheen Afridi, 10 Mohammad Abbas, 11 Naseem Shah

Pitch and conditions

The Gabba is back in its traditional slot of hosting the opening Test of the season – after being pushed down the pecking order last season – and it should be a typical surface which is one of the better ones for Test cricket in the world: pace and carry for quicks, trueness the batsmen can trust and maybe some spin if the game goes deep. There was a tinge of green on match-eve, but that was enhanced by rolling in grass clippings. “I had never heard it described like this before from the curator,” Justin Langer said. “He said that ‘today we’ve got the makeup on’ and I think he meant grass clippings, and tomorrow it will probably look a bit greener than it does today. So a fascinating art and science to producing these great wickets.” The weather is set fair with temperatures in the high 20s throughout.

Stats and Trivia

  • Australia have not lost at the Gabba since 1988.

  • On the 2016-17 tour, Pakistan came within 40 runs of chasing down 490 as Shafiq scored a fourth-innings 137.

  • Smith needs 27 runs for 7000 in Test cricket – he has six innings in hand to break Wally Hammond’s record for the fastest to the mark.

Quotes

“We are very respectful of the Pakistan team. I watched them bat at Optus Stadium last week and they have some very technically correct batsman. I’m not going to single out one; they are a very good batting side.”
Australia coach Justin Langer

“Since we have never won here, the pressure also brings an opportunity with itself. These youngsters have not come here and lost in the past, so the advantage of that is they’re ambitious and they would want to grab this opportunity.”
Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq



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How Tim Paine gave David Warner five extra minutes for ‘a massive achievement’ | Cricket

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David Warner takes a bow as he leaves the field © Getty Images


David Warner has revealed that Australia captain Tim Paine had extended a predetermined cut-off time for the innings to allow the opener to pass the 334-run record jointly held by Donald Bradman and Mark Taylor as the nation’s second highest Test score.

The agreed time to end Australia’s domineering innings against Pakistan was 5.40pm Adelaide time, at which point Warner had equalled but not passed 334. However, Paine sent out the message that Warner had time to go to 335 before he closed the innings, allowing the 33-year-old opener to write a fresh page of Australian cricket history a little more than 18 months after the Newlands scandal that had threatened to leave his name more associated with ball tampering than batting. Paine called Warner in immediately after the final single at about 5.45pm.

There was never any question in Warner’s mind – or that of others – about batting long enough to challenge Brian Lara’s world record 400* against England, or Matthew Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe. This was due to a grim weather forecast, with the time gained on the second evening allowing the Australians to rip out six Pakistan wickets before stumps, leaving only 14 more to get for a series sweep.

ALSO READ: Brettig – ‘Ironman’ David Warner’s 335-run journey from ignominy to history

“I don’t think so at all. We really looked at the weather that’s around tomorrow, we wanted to give ourselves a lot of time,” Warner explained after the day’s play. “If we could have the amount of overs we got tonight and try to get a couple of wickets, we’ve managed to get six wickets down, if there is a bit of rain about tomorrow, the bowlers get a good rest, only have to come out and try to get 14 wickets in the last two days, so it wasn’t a thing in our mind to go out there and try to get that record or anything.

“The first person I asked was [Steven] Smithy when I was out there batting. I said how many overs do you reckon we’ll have at them tonight, and it was literally that perfect amount. Then I came in, I think at that [tea] break, and I said ‘when are we declaring’, and they said ‘5.40pm’ and I said ‘ok’. I kept on asking when we were out there, we got to five, then ten past five, and I was making sure that was still the message and it was. Until I think that last over before, it just ticked over [5.40pm] and Painey wanted me to try and get past that 334 mark.”

Reflecting on the innings, Warner said he had wanted to “make a statement” in the wake of his poor Ashes tour. “It is obviously a massive achievement. But for me, it is always about coming out here and trying to make a statement,” he told Fox Cricket. “Through my poor form in England, but to come back to Australia and put back-to-back performances on the board and have that consistency back here and start the summer well for our team, that is what I was more proud of myself for.



It is obviously a massive achievement. But for me, it is always about coming out here and trying to make a statement

“Yeah 100% I was aware of it [the history]. You grow up knowing what those milestones are. Forever you talk about Donald Bradman. I remember Michael Clarke at the SCG declared on 329 not out. They’re things that you look at the history books and say, ‘how did they get there – that’s a long time in the middle’. I managed to go out there and do that but it takes an incredible amount of patience which I surprised myself.”

Looking back on a grim Ashes series, Warner said that he had learned a valuable lesson about backing his own game rather than listening to too many voices, however well-meaning, about how he should play against the moving ball. “You’re going to have people who doubt you, and through that whole series I said ‘I wasn’t out of form, I was out of runs’,” he said. “If I had my time again I would’ve not changed my guard, I wouldn’t have listened to some external noises, I would’ve backed myself more and bat where I have been here outside off, leaving the ball patiently, getting my bat and pad closer together and under my nose, and I am capable of that.

“I just think in England you can get caught up in playing too much in front [of the body], especially with the way I play, so I’ve had to regroup coming back from England, I’ve hit 3500-4000 balls leading into Brisbane and here as well I batted for a good two hours per session as well.

“It’s not by chance that I’ve actually tightened all that up, I’ve actually been working really hard on it in the nets, it’s one of those things where I’m a very confident person, whether I scored these runs or didn’t score these runs, I still hold my head up high and have that little smirk on my face that I always have.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig


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Warner’s epic 335 not out overwhelms Pakistan before Starc burst | Cricket

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Warner makes history with 335*


Pakistan 6 for 96 (Starc 4-22) trail Australia 3 for 589 dec (Warner 335*, Labuschagne 162) by 493 runs

If the opening day was wretched for Pakistan, the adjectives to describe the second are best left unprinted. There was no humiliation spared, no skillset left unexposed as Australia’s batsmen – led by David Warner‘s epic unbeaten 335 – did what they liked to Pakistan for the first half of the day, with the bowlers cutting in on the action in the final session.

Warner will grab tomorrow’s headlines, and cement a place in Australian cricketing folklore for his inniungs today, becoming the first triple centurion in the Adelaide Oval’s history, and surpassing Donald Bradman’s 334 which Mark Taylor equaled in 1998. That was when Tim Paine finally took mercy on the hapless visitors, calling his side in just as the cricketing world was settling in to see a serious challenge to Brian Lara’s record 400 not out.




Moment of history: David Warner brings up his triple century © Getty Images and Cricket Australia


If that tempted you to decry the pitch a mundane road, the final session would have had you reaching for the emergency brake. Mitchell Starc was one wicket away from a five-fer, while Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins swarmed all over Pakistan early. Regular breakthroughs meant there was never any chance of a partnership building that so much as hinted Pakistan might challenge Australia’s 589 enough to force them in to bat again at some point this Test. When it was time to wind up, Pakistan were 493 runs behind, with the tail already exposed. Babar Azam, predictably, was the lone source of resistance from the other end, but when the umpires called stumps, they might as well have been calling a halt to a boxing match.

Pakistan were still seven overs away from the new ball becoming available when the day began, but the signs were ominous in that early half hour. Instead of being able to rein Australia in during that initial spell, Yasir Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed operated ineffectually, with Australia piling on 65 in nine overs of the old ball, scoring more freely than they had across the entirety of the first day. Any pressure they might have felt at the start was already well off when the new pink ball was called for, and the records were quickly stacking up.

The 361-run partnership between Warner and Marnus Labuschagne was the second-highest second-wicket stand for Australia in Test cricket, with the pair joining an elite group to have scored 150 in consecutive innings. By the time Shaheen Afridi – again Pakistan’s best bowler – castled Labuschagne’s offstump with a genuinely delightful inswinger, he had amassed 162. Australia were 2 for 369, with Steven Smith walking in. Hardly a sight for sore bowling shoulders.

Warner would continue to bring up milestones. He reached 200 and celebrated with the steel of a man only halfway through his journey. Moments later, it seemed, he was raising his bat for 250, which is when he really cut loose as Australia looked to wring every last run out of their innings. Pakistan didn’t help themselves when debutant Muhammad Musa had Warner nick off to fourth slip from a no-ball, the second time a Pakistan debutant reprieved Warner in this way this series after Naseem Shah’s overstep in Brisbane.

Pakistan’s bowling might have been consistently listless, but the extent of Yasir’s nightmare may yet have career-affecting consequences for him. His struggles in the southern hemisphere are well-documented, particularly his record in Australia. But here it almost seemed safer to have Iftikhar bowling instead. He was, after all, “only” going at five per over, while Yasir conceded 197 in his 32 at more than a run-a-ball, unable to keep himself from dragging the ball down several times every over, or feeding them faithfully into the left-handers’ hitting arcs. If, in these past three years, Yasir worked on how to manage a game where wickets come at a premium, it did not show today.

After Smith edged a wild hack, Warner and Matthew Wade combined for a breezy 99-run partnership which saw Warner bring up 300 with a pull off Mohammad Abbas – who still wasn’t targeting the stumps – and brought out a celebration so emotive it moved his wife, sitting in the stands, to tears. After that, he was even more unconfined, and when he took Abbas for 17 in an over, it really appeared that 400 was going to be given a shot. But when a single to extra cover took him past 334 – to stand second beyond Matthew Hayden’s 380 for Australia – Paine emerged from the dressing room and called them in, a cue for Adelaide to stand as one as its most prolific scorer walked off.

It is perhaps no coincidence that was the precise moment when the wicket decided to change character as the lights took hold. Shan Masood was given out in the first over, and though he had it overturned, the breakthrough was never far away. Imam-ul Haq nicked off to Warner – who else? – in the slips in the fifth over, and it wasn’t long before Cummins found Azhar Ali’s outside edge after the dinner break, allowing Smith to take a sharp catch diving forward at second slip.

It was, more or less, the way every Pakistan batsman was dismissed. Each one of the six that fell would have their outside edge tickled, with Starc doing much of the damage in the final half an hour. Asad Shafiq fell to one he could do little about, while poor shot selection from Iftikhar and Mohammad Rizwan meant Pakistan were making Australia’s task much easier than it needed to be. Sunday might be affected by rain, but it appears little can impact the outcome of this match.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000


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Jofra Archer encouraged to look on bright side after hard yards in New Zealand

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Jofra Archer has been encouraged to keep a sense of perspective after a dispiriting tour of New Zealand. Archer finished with 1 for 75 in the first innings at Hamilton, taking his series tally to two wickets at 91.00 apiece.

Archer arrived in the country with a big reputation having enjoyed an outstanding start to his international career, but he has found the combination of the docile pitches and unresponsive ball hard to overcome.

But Stuart Broad, his vastly experienced colleague, urged him to reflect on what he has already achieved in his international career and look forward to the prospect of more helpful surfaces in South Africa, where England play their next Test series.

“Jofra has been a bit disappointed because he’s used to making things happen in cricket,” Broad said. “Sometimes, away from home, the game isn’t played at the speed we’re used to in England. The excitement’s not there, the pace isn’t there and the nip’s not there. These pitches are tough work to get wickets on. You can’t expect to come and get five for 30 on pitches like this. I don’t think the Kookaburra ball is his best friend at the minute.

“But it will be when he realises that not every away pitch is like this. I’m just encouraging him to look forward to South Africa. That’s a better place to bowl.”

Archer’s impact at international level has been so dramatic that it is possible people forget how inexperienced he is. Before this tour, for example, he had played only 32 first-class games and he had never bowled with a Kookaburra ball. His first four Tests came in England, on relatively helpful surfaces and with a Dukes ball, and saw him claim 22 wickets at a cost of 20.27 apiece.

Now Broad hopes to remind him of everything he has achieved in such a short space of time and persuade him to accept that such barren patches are inevitable.

“He’s never experienced anything like it,” Broad said. “He’s played a lot of first-class Division Two cricket with the games in fast-forward. He said at Mount Maunganui that he’d never gone through a day without taking a wicket, but he’s still so new to this level of cricket.

“He still judges himself on the wickets he takes but once he gets past 50 Tests he won’t do that, he’ll play on too many flat ones. His economy rate has been really good. His areas have been great.

“I said to him today when he had a none-for, you’d take your World Cup and Ashes for a couple of games without wickets. You can’t get a six-for every time you step on the field. Just lower your expectations, enjoy being here and speak to someone in England who is cold in November. You’re playing cricket in New Zealand – it’s good.”



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