Day-night Test matches have been the centre of much discussion in recent days with India hosting their first contest with the pink ball. The second game of this series brings us back to the original home of the day-night Tests as the Adelaide Oval hosts its fourth match under lights. Whether India are playing under lights here next year is currently the topic of much debate.
Back in the present and the question is whether the different conditions will help or hinder Pakistan’s chances of levelling the series. Given the struggle of the bowlers in Brisbane, if there is the prospect of their seamers getting more assistance it may narrow the gap, although anything their quicks can do Australia’s big three will be very confident of replicating.
After flattering to deceive in the opening session at the Gabba, Pakistan were then so far behind the game after two days that even an improved showing could not prevent an innings defeat. However, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – plus Asad Shafiq in the first innings – gave a template of how success can be achieved.
It was difficult to pick holes in Australia’s performance although Tim Paine said the performance of the pace attack was slightly below the high expectations they set themselves. The top order did an outstanding job, but it will be interesting to see how they respond if challenged with more movement than was on offer in Brisbane.
For Australia this is the first of back-to-back day-night Tests with the opening game against New Zealand also under lights in Perth next month. While the format is still trying to find its feet around the world it is clear it is seen as a key part of the future of the game in Australia. After the underwhelming crowd numbers in Brisbane, how many come through turnstiles will be closely watched.
Australia WLWLD (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
The shock. The gasps. The silence. Steven Smith was out for 4. It would become the lowest score in Australia’s mammoth 580. He made himself run back to the hotel the evening of his dismissal to Yasir Shah who reminded him that it was the seventh time he had removed him. Was that a good idea? It will hardly go down as one of the more vicious bowler v batsman baiting stories in the game, but Smith won’t want to go two matches in a row without contributing even if it’s the least his team owes him. Shah will need to be on top of his game.
It has largely been accepted – except, perhaps, by Pakistan’s inner circle – that leaving Mohammad Abbas out of the Gabba Test was a mistake. His experience, control and skill – even if marginally diminished – would have surely been an asset. It seems inevitable he will now be recalled, with the pressure of stopping an in-form Australia top order. With the new pink ball likely to offer some assistance and then the element of twilight period, Abbas appears to be the perfect type of bowler.
Australia have named an unchanged team which means no place for James Pattinson who was ruled out of the first Test following his code of conduct suspension.
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
Pakistan could make at least two changes and potentially three. Imam-ul-Haq is likely to return in place of Haris Sohail, meaning captain Azhar Ali will drop to No. 3, and Abbas is set to replace Imran Khan. The other decision to make is whether to play Naseem Shah in back-to-back Tests or bring in the uncapped 19-year-old Muhammad Musa.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Shan Masood, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Azhar Ali (capt), 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/Muhammad Musa
Pitch and conditions
Usually an excellent pitch for Test cricket, the Adelaide Oval surface has produced some exciting cricket when the added dimension of the pink ball and lights are added. The long summer nights mean it doesn’t get fully dark until late, but the twilight period can remain tricky. The less promising news is that there is the chance of showers throughout the match.
Stats and Trivia
The top four wicket-takers in the brief history of day-night Test cricket will be on show: Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Yasir Shah and Nathan Lyon
The top three leading run-scorers of day-night Tests – Azhar Ali, Steven Smith and Asad Shafiq – will also be playing
Pakistan have not played a Test in Adelaide since 1990 when Imran Khan and Wasim Akram hit second-innings hundreds in a sixth-wicket stand of 191
Steven Smith needs 23 runs to reach 7000 in Test cricket
“I think that wicket looks a bit drier than perhaps it was the last pink ball Test we played here against England, but as we know the pink ball always offers enough. Our fast bowlers certainly enjoy bowling with it, particularly under lights. And the games tend to go quite quickly.”
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