Time: March 12, 10:30 AM IST
Venue: National Stadium, Karachi
The Rawalpindi pitch was lifeless, and not only the fans but also the players are hoping for a result in Karachi. The wicket at the National Stadium is expected to provide turn, in anticipation to produce a thrilling game.
In 2021, Pakistan beat South Africa by 7 wickets on the fourth day at the venue. Spinners took 18 of 33 wickets, and the batters had to fight tooth and nail to last longer.
Probable XI for Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi
Given the nature of the wicket, leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is likely to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood.
Probable XI for England: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc
We have opted for a fantasy cricket team based on the recent performances, overall impact, and credit points.
Fawad Alam scored a match-winning hundred in the 2021 Test against South Africa, lifting Pakistan from 27 for 4 to 278 for 7. In the same game, Azhar Ali scored 51 and 31*. Before this innings, Azhar had scored 118 at Karachi. He seems to know the nook and cranny of the venue. His recent form and overall numbers make him a good candidate for captaincy in fantasy cricket.
90 off 158, a wicket, and a run-out: Marnus Labuschagne provided fantasy points in all aspects of the game. Against Pakistan, he averages 74 in 6 Tests.
Nauman Ali took 6 for 107 in the opening Test, dismissing the likes of Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja. At Karachi, he has taken 7 wickets (including a five-for) and played a crucial knock of 24 in one Test.
Imam-ul-Haq was the captain of the Ultimate Team on My11Circle. He was also adjudged the Player of the Match for his twin hundreds. He batted well against the guile of Nathan Lyon.
Usman Khawaja’s experience in playing the Pakistan T20 League came in handy. He fell 3 runs short of reaching his 11th hundred. Ever since his return to Test cricket, his scores read 137, 101*, 6, 11, and 97.
Abdullah Shafique has played 3 Tests and has already scored 330 runs at 82.5, including a hundred and two fifties.
Steven Smith averages a mere 35.7 this season. His 78 off 196, however, was a knock of substance. Given he is a brilliant player of spin, he will play a key role on this pitch.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan did not have much role to play in the first Test, but the duo will continue to be Pakistan’s cynosure in the middle-order.
David Warner continued hunting down the Pakistani bowlers. His 68 was his eighth 50-plus score in eight Tests against them.
It all depends on how the pitch behaves. Although it was an easy wicket to bat on at Rawalpindi, Australia fared well against the Pakistani spinners and played according to the merit of the ball. This time, however, there will be more zip and turn. It will be a test of character and patience for the visitors. On the other hand, Pakistan have a reputation for getting carried away. Australia won’t let them off the hook.
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