AUSTRALIA v PAKISTAN 3RD TEST - SYDNEY
January 3rd, 2017
In these days of continuous cricket, no contest is a dead rubber. Australia may have already wrapped up the series 2-0 but will have one eye on India tour while Pakistan will contemplate on the life post Misbah-ul-Haq for whom this could be the final match of an illustrious career. For the spectators though, it can’t get better than this as we ring in the new year with the Sydney Test that begins on Tuesday, January 3.
Chance to rotate for Australia
It wasn’t long ago that Steve Smith was scratching for answers to arrest the slide in Test matches. Three consecutive wins later, the hunger for supremacy is back – as was evident at MCG where they snatched a win out of nowhere.
There’s scope for improvement still as the problematic number six position continues to puzzle the Kangaroos. There could be a toss-up between Hilton Cartwright and Ashton Agar – both of whom are good with the bat too. Amidst the euphoria, it should be noted that this team is far from being unbeatable.
Which Pakistan will turn up?
There’s never a doubt about the ability of Pakistan to win down under – it’s always a question of their temperament and application. It’s difficult to predict which side will turn up in which match. The one that scared the Aussies on the final day of the Brisbane Test pales in comparison with the one that collapsed spectacularly at Melbourne.
Add to that, the uncertainty around the future of their captain Misbah who’s ready to walk into the sunset. He would lead in Sydney although the team is still searching for answers regarding the composition.
Australia have shored up their spin department by including Steve O’Keefe along with Agar. Irrespective of the spin pitch on offer, Smith may not go with three spinners. Also O’Keefe could be in line to tour India which means a potential debut for Cartwright.
To be true to their performances, Pakistan have challenged Australia in both the Tests – only to fall short thanks to their own inconsistencies. Babar Azam didn’t impress in either matches which could mean a shift towards another spinner in Mohammad Nawaz.
Betting on a Pakistan win is looking too risky a punt based on their current form. Australia will no doubt go for a win not just to continue their momentum but also to build up towards the spin-trial that awaits them later in India. Australia win is offered at odds of 1.45 on the exchange and that should be a safe punt.
Spin springs to mind at the mention of Sydney but don’t forget the swing that’s on offer early every day. That makes someone like Mitchell Starc a difficult proposition to handle. After the high of landing an unlikely win in the Boxing Day Test, the left-arm swing bowler should be pumped up. Back him at odds of 2.88 to be the best bowler for Australia.