Pakistan and Australia will start their two-Test series at the Gabba Stadium in Brisbane on Thursday.
This is the first assignment of the ICC Test Championship for the visitors, who are currently on a four-match losing streak in the format.
This is also Azhar Ali’s first assignment as captain. The right-handed opener took the reins of the team from Sarfraz Ahmed, who was sacked last month due to the team’s dismal performance in all formats.
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The visitors look a balanced outfit on paper. Skipper Azhar will open the innings along with Shan Masood while Haris Sohail and Babar Azam are likely to occupy the one-down and two-down positions respectively.
While Asad Shafiq is sure to bat at no.5, Iftikhar Ahmed could come in fill the no.6 slot. Mohammad Rizwan, who played his only Test back in 2016, will take charge behind the stumps after replacing Sarfraz in the line-up.
On the bowling front, they are likely to go with a three-pronged pace attack, which will be formed up most probably by 16-year-old uncapped Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Imran Khan, who claimed a five-wicket haul against Australia A last week.
This means, Yasir Shah will be the only specialist spinner in their XI, though the 15-man squad also includes uncapped leg-spinner, Usman Qadir.
Tim Paine-led Australia, meanwhile, will be looking for a fresh start after retaining the Ashes trophy in a series that was drawn.
The hosts will be without James Pattinson, with the pacer being suspended by Cricket Australia (CA) for player abuse during a Sheffield Shield game last week. His suspension has paved the way for Mitchell Starc to play the opening Test, where he is expected to form a three-pronged pace attack alongside Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Pakistan have won never won a Test series against Australia in Australia. They had the last beat the opposition in a Test on their backyard in 1995.
The second and final Test between the two sides will be played in Adelaide from November 29-December 3.
Shan Masood, Azhar Ali (Captain), Iftikhar Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Sohail, Yasir Shah, Babar Azam, Imran Khan,Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah
David Warner, Joe Burns, Nathan Lyon, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood, Tim Paine (Captain & wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc