Nominally a neutral venue, and nominally a drifting Pakistan against an Australian side in superlative form. Except, Harris, the key cog that lets Johnson be Johnson, has been replaced by Siddle, and the UAE has been home-sweet-home for Pakistan for long enough to be very comfortable.
Very few things about this match are clear. Spin would seem to be important, but the DSC offers a little on day one then plays low and slow, so it can help to bowl. The absence of Saaed Ajmal means Australia will not be as tested as they might be, which is good for a line-up with a history of abject failure on turning tracks. If it does turn, Smith and Clarke need to score big runs. The latter is also coming back from injury; the former is a wild-card with bat and ball. As too are O'Keefe and Marsh. And for that matter, Johnson, if he can get something out of the pitch - remembering he was stymied in South Africa.
For Pakistan, Misbah and Younis remain the only certainties in a machine that seems to change parts every time it takes the field. That is a worry, but both continue to play good cricket, smart cricket. The ratings favour the Australians, but it ought to be close, and if Pakistan can turn the match into a tussle and wear down the opposing attack, they will be in it.
A three test series against two closely matched rivals. Both sides have plenty to prove, if not much to play for in a series that will be ignored moreso than forgotten. Zimbabwe's form at home has been decent, including a victory over both Pakistan and Bangladesh in tests in recent memory. Losing Utseya will hurt though, as their pace bowling has little to offer in Bangladesh. Similarly, the reinstatement of Shakib will improve Bangladesh immensely. The ratings have this much closer than I would think. Assuming we see a result, it should be a comfortable victory for Bangladesh. If not, questions should be asked.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 22nd October, 2014 16:29:47 [#]