A new-look Australian team will face Pakistan in the first test in Dubai starting Sunday. Three players will be handed a test cap – Travis Head, Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne.
The Aussies are missing several key players after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year. Steve Smith and David Warner were the two big names suspended leaving a big hole in the team.
Tim Paine was handed the reins making a comeback to the team from obscurity and will lead a team that is trying to soften its image. It will be a challenge for the Australians who have recently struggled in the UAE, especially with their best batsmen Smith and Warner out.
Pakistan starts as favorites in the series and will be looking to a returning Yasir Shah as their go-to man. Shah missed the tour of England and will be looking to impress in spinning conditions – he was the main destroyer of the Aussies, combining with Zulfiqar Babar and Muhammad Hafeez to take 30 of the 40 wickets during 2014 series.
Hafeez has just been recalled into the side and is likely to feature after Shadab Khan’s injury. Offspinner Bilal Asif is also likely to be given a debut giving Pakistan three spin options.
Pakistan also go into the series with something to prove. The team has been rebuilt after Misbah and Younis Khan’s retirement. Babar Azam is still looking to establish himself as a test batsman and will be a man to watch in the series. Another man looking to prove himself will be Wahab Riaz who has just been recalled to the test side. Wahab’s pace will complement Muhammad Abbas’s accurate bowling in the pace attack. However, Wahab gave an ordinary performance against the Aussie’s in the warm-up game and he will compete with Mir Hamza, the young left-armer, for a starting spot.
The match begins today at 11am PST.