Australia are set to embark on a significant journey as they commence their three-Test series against Pakistan on Thursday. Beyond the prestigious Benaud-Qadir trophy at stake, the hosts would have a larger goal in mind. The series opener is scheduled for December 14 at Optus Stadium in Perth, with subsequent clashes at the MCG and SCG.
Australia’s ambition beyond securing the series
Beyond the ambition of securing a series victory, Australia have an added incentive with World Test Championship (WTC) points on the line. In the ongoing WTC cycle from June 2023 to June 2025, featuring the top nine Test nations, Australia currently occupies the fifth position. They trail behind Bangladesh, New Zealand, India and the current WTC leaders, Pakistan. Under the leadership of Pat Cummins, Australia will aim to clinch the series by emerging victorious in all matches, thereby enhancing their standing in the WTC rankings.
Australia’s optimal playing XI for the Test series against Pakistan:
With a wealth of experience, Warner, known for his explosive batting at the top order, sets the stage for Australia with his aggressive style. As he possibly approaches the end of his Test career, Warner will aim to bid farewell to the longest format in a memorable fashion.
2. Usman Khawaja:
A proficient left-handed batter, Khawaja’s graceful stroke play and ability to anchor the innings make him a valuable asset. Bringing composure to the batting lineup through his international experience, Khawaja has consistently proven himself as one of Australia’s most reliable batters. His role alongside Warner involves negotiating the new ball spell of Pakistan to pave the way for upcoming batters.
3. Marnus Labuschagne:
As a key pillar in Australia’s batting lineup, Labuschagne’s prolific run-scoring and solid technique make him an indispensable player. His adaptability to different match situations adds versatility to the team. Following his significant contribution to Australia’s recent ODI World Cup triumph, Labuschagne would seek to continue his impressive form in the red-ball format.
4. Steve Smith:
A modern batting maestro, Smith’s unorthodox yet effective style positions him as a linchpin in the middle order. Smith’s proficiency in stabilizing the innings and launching counter-attacks adds depth to Australia’s batting lineup. Despite recent struggles with form, the home series provides Smith with an opportunity to regain his rhythm.
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5. Travis Head:
Known for his aggressive batting approach, Head injects momentum into the middle order. His ability to take on bowlers and accelerate the scoring rate makes him a pivotal player in the middle overs. Currently enjoying remarkable form across formats, Head has become a formidable force for bowlers. He would like to sustain this dominance in the upcoming series.
6. Cameron Green:
An emerging all-rounder, Green’s dual contribution with bat and ball enhances Australia’s balance. His medium-fast bowling and aggressive batting style make him a valuable asset to the team.
7. Alex Carey (wk):
As the wicketkeeper-batter, Carey’s secure glovework and batting prowess make him a reliable presence behind the stumps. Adding depth to the lower middle order, Carey’s aggressive approach further strengthens Australia’s batting lineup.
8. Pat Cummins (c):
Leading as captain and premier fast bowler, Cummins spearheads the team with exceptional pace and seam movement. His role as a key wicket-taker often shapes the course of the game.
9. Mitchell Starc:
Renowned for his express pace and ability to swing the ball, Starc brings potency to Australia’s pace attack. His knack for providing early breakthroughs makes him a crucial asset in the team’s strategy.
10. Nathan Lyon:
As the experienced off-spinner, Lyon’s ability to extract turn and variations positions him as Australia’s primary spinner. Approaching the milestone of 500 wickets, Lyon emerges as a significant threat to the Pakistan team.
11. Josh Hazlewood:
A dependable seamer, Hazlewood’s consistent line and length, coupled with his ability to generate bounce, establish him as a vital component in Australia’s pace battery.