Written by Rick John Henry for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Pakistan vs Australia | Thursday 30 October | Abu Dhabi | 08:00
As I suspected, the bookies had it wrong last time out and judging by the betting released for the second Test, punters backing Pakistan are in for another profitable week. Calling the UAE their home, Pakistan are a step away from breaking a series win drought against Australia that stretches twenty years. A 221-run loss has again called into question Australia’s ability to win on low, slow pitches. I expected spin and reverse swing to play their part in the Australian demise, however it seems it is simple fear of the above that has their batsmen in a tangle. At the end of the day, Australia simply were not good enough and were completely outplayed in conditions that don’t suit them. It’s not about to get any easier.
No Saeed Ajmal, no worries. Legspinner Yasir Shah’s promising debut bodes well for Pakistan in the spin department. As all leggies are prone to leaking runs, Shah made sure he balanced it with additions to the wickets column. Both he and Babar claimed seven, with the latter picking up a five-wicket haul in the final innings. Australia were expected to struggle against the spinners but what was most surprising was Pakistan’s resilience with the bat. Veteran Younis Khan struck hundreds in each innings, the first player in forty years to do so against Australia in a Test. He is now Pakistan’s most prolific century scorer in history, passing Inzamam-ul-Haq with 26 tons. He also has a century against all nine Test-playing nations. Sarfraz Ahmed’s meteoric rise came to a head with the second-fastest hundred by a wicketkeeper, his unbeaten score of 15 in the second innings ruining a run of five consecutive 50+ scores. In other record-breaking news, Misbah-ul-Haq is one victory away from equalling Pakistan’s all-time captaincy win record. The only area of concern for the side is the amount of chances that went down, particularly in the second innings. Fielding will have to improve if they harbour hopes of a clinical victory.
Here’s a statistic that the bookies seem to be ignoring. Australia have only won one Test on the whole of the Asian continent since 2007. That’s seven years with very little success in these types of conditions. Their batting attack crumbled at the hands of Pakistan’s spinners on a pitch without too many demons. Indeed, the Australians were found wanting when expecting excessive turn, playing down the wrong line to deliveries that simply skidded on. This is just one of many low, slow tracks that have thwarted the Australian juggernaut in recent times. To add insult to injury, their own bowling attack proved toothless with the exception of Mitchell Johnson in the first innings. Johnson cannot be expected to run through sides on his lonesome, especially when the pitch is not exactly nippy. The only silver lining from the whole debacle comes in the form of Australia’s opening partnership. Rogers and Warner are far and wide the best when it comes to building opening partnerships, their contrasting way of going about their business proving fruitful. Warner in particular has been in fearsome form. His 29 in the second innings broke a run of six consecutive 50+ Test scores, with his understanding with Rogers being Australia’s biggest asset at present.
Abu Dhabi shouldn’t differ too much from what Australia experienced in Dubai. It’s generally a fantastic strip for batting until wear and tear invites spinners into the game in the latter stages. Extraordinarily, Pakistan have yet to lose in five Tests at the ground, against the likes of Sri Lanka, South Africa and England. The forecast is sunny with little chance of rain.
VERDICT: Pakistan 288/100
I highly doubt that Australia’s side will be able to right the plethora of wrongs from the first Test. They look a side fresh out of ideas when faced with a subcontinental style wicket, and lack the skill required to profit on them. Speaking of profit, punters who listened cashed in last week. Let’s hope this week brings a similar return.