Pakistan vs Australia – fitness worry for Australian duo
Australia remain confident of fielding an unchanged side in the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley this week despite two fitness concerns.
Batsman Marcus North, the unlikely bowling hero in the first Test win last week, added to the team’s worries by sitting out training on Monday with a stomach upset.
He joined Ben Hilfenhaus on the sidelines, the seamer having also missed practice to undergo further treatment on his shoulder injury.
Australia are the 4/6 favourites to win the second Test, and they will be keen to keep their victorious starting line-up intact.
North, who claimed six for 55 in the second innings of the 150-run Lord’s success, was not thought to have a serious problem while vice captain Michael Clarke delivered an upbeat assessment of Hilfenhaus’ situation.
“He is still seeing the physio, but he is certainly improving,” said Clarke. “Hopefully he will be right come day one of the Test match.”
Such is the stability in the Australia side compared to their opponents – whose captain Shahid Afridi suddenly resigned last week – that a slight change to their batting order seems a major talking point.
Clarke has swapped places with Mike Hussey to bat at four instead of his usual position of five in this series, and Hussey is 7/2 to score a century from his new slot.
The uncapped Peter George is on standby to replace Hilfenhaus while Clint McKay has also been added to the squad as cover.
George, 23, was a late addition to the initial squad as replacement for the injured Ryan Harris while 27-year-old McKay was in Leeds playing for Yorkshire.
North’s only potential replacement is another uncapped player, Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja, but Australia are hoping to avoid change.
Salman Butt takes the captaincy from Afridi, and Pakistan’s hopes will rest with the new skipper and his partner at the top of the order, Imran Farhat, who is 13/8 to score 50 runs.
Could Pakistan cause an upset? They are 6/1 to win the second Test. See the full Pakistan vs Australia market.