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Australia v Pakistan: Second Test preview

After a crushing victory in the first Test, Australia head to Melbourne knowing another win over Pakistan will seal the three-match series.

The Boxing Day Test at the MCG is always an iconic event and another big crowd is expected in Victoria for the 2023 encounter.

The hosts are 1.28 to win the second Test, with Pakistan available to back at 13.00 while the draw is available at 5.00.

 WhatSecond Test – Australia v Pakistan
WhereMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
When26th-30th December, 2023
How to watchChannel 7, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsAustralia 1.28, Draw 5.00, Pakistan 13.00

Aussies out to maintain MCG run

Melbourne has been a happy hunting ground for Australia in recent years, winning three of their last four Boxing Day Tests at the MCG.

India are the only team to win there since 2010 and going off of the first Test showing, Pakistan look unlikely to end that run this year.

The Aussies have comfortably won their last two Boxing Day Tests by an innings – against South Africa in 2022 and England in 2021.

The last time these two teams met in Melbourne, in 2016, it was another emphatic victory for the Baggy Greens, with an innings and 18 runs success.

Smith primed for big score

It’s been 10 Test innings since Steve Smith’s last century and the former skipper is seeking a first ton on home soil since January 2023.

There have been some good signs though from the 34-year-old, with the batter getting a start in both innings in the first Test – when he scored 31 and 45 in Perth.

Smith scored 85 in last year’s Boxing Day victory over the Proteas and has plenty of happy memories of MCG Tests. Of his 32 Test centuries, four of the right-hander’s tons have come in Melbourne – which include an unbeaten 165 against Pakistan in the 2016 meeting.

Smith, currently sitting third in the Test batting world rankings, can be backed at 7.00 to be Player of the Match in the second Test, while he is available at 4.00 to be the top batter.

Pace concerns for Pakistan attack

On hard, pacy wickets in Australia, the Pakistan quick bowlers would have been confident of having some joy on the tour.

Shaheen Shah Afridi took just two wickets across the two innings in Perth – with figures of 1-96 in the first innings and 1-76 in the second.

On his debut, Khurram Shahzad fared a bit better with five wickets in the first Test, but he won’t be able to play in Melbourne due to injury.

Pakistan legend Waqar Younis has stated his concern at the lack of speed shown by the Pakistan bowling attack. The pace bowlers rarely got over 140kph and Waqar feels there is “no real pace” in the Pakistan line-up.

Shaheen has been known to bounce back well from disappointment and the 23-year-old can be backed at 7.50 to be the Top 1st Innings Bowler at the MCG.

Australia v Pakistan Team News

There is unlikely to be any changes to the Australian starting line-up from the first Test success, with skipper Pat Cummins saying that all the bowlers are feeling “pretty fresh”.

Lance Morris will play no part at the MCG after the Aussie selectors revealed he will stay in Western Australia to play in the Big Bash for the Perth Scorchers.

Shahzad suffered a rib injury which will see him miss the rest of the series, which means the Pakistan selectors will have to choose from Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr or Mir Hamza.

Spinner Noman Ali has also been ruled out after being forced to undergo surgery to have his appendix removed this week.

Mohammed Rizwan impressed in a practice match against Victoria and may be handed a recall by the tourists.

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