Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

A In the lead-up to the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia has opted for continuity by maintaining an unchanged XI, aiming to secure the series against Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan, recovering from a 360-run defeat in the first Test in Perth, has made strategic changes, dropping veteran wicketkeeper-batter Sarfaraz Ahmed.

The decision to stick with the winning combination for Australia means Scott Boland, despite his impressive debut at the MCG in 2021, misses out. Captain Pat Cummins expressed confidence in Boland’s readiness, emphasizing his role in future games.

Despite the looming threat of showers and potential thunderstorms on the first day, Cummins remains optimistic about completing the match, citing the resilience of the playing surface. The skipper provided insights into the pitch conditions, noting a fair bit of grass and a slightly harder, less green appearance compared to the previous year.

Pakistan, grappling with injuries post-Perth, has faced setbacks with Khurram Shahzad, Abrar Ahmed, and Noman Ali ruled out. In response, they have named a 12-man squad, sidelining Sarfaraz Ahmed and Faheem Ashraf. Mohammad Nawaz assumes the wicketkeeping role, while Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali vie for Shahzad’s position in the bowling attack. Notably, Sajid Khan stands as the sole spin option in the absence of Ahmed and Ali.

Shan Masood, Pakistan’s captain, justified the changes, citing tactical decisions based on prevailing conditions and the team’s strategic goals. The match, set against a backdrop of uncertain weather, promises an intriguing battle between two determined sides at one of cricket’s iconic venues.

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