Pakistan vs Australia – Ponting primed to swat aside ‘home’ team
In what may seem like a leap into the future, Australia captain Ricky Ponting will lead his side out for a Lord’s Test match at 10.30am on Tuesday.
But rather than an Ashes clash with England the Antipodeans’ opponents will be Shahid Afridi’s youthful Pakistan.
Given Australia’s 3-0 Test series whitewash over the Pakistanis earlier this year it is little surprise to see them installed as 4/5 favourites to win the match, with the ‘home’ team a 5/1 shot.
Pakistan cricket is in a bit of turmoil at the moment, following the shootings last year that make it unsafe to stage matches in the country and squad disharmony which erupted on the tour Down Under and resulted in four players being banned.
30-year-old Afridi has since been given the captaincy and says he wants to unite a side that will have Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed and Umar Akmal as a probable top four.
That will be easier said than done given the foursome’s relative inexperience – only 89 tests between them, much fewer than Ponting’s total alone – so a first innings lead for Australia, at 8/15, seems assured.
Farhat and Butt have averages 51 for the first wicket in the last 10 Tests, though, so it may be worth backing the first Pakistan wicket to fall with over 36.5 runs on the board – it’s 5/6.
Despite making 39 centuries across the globe, Australia captain Ponting has never managed to get his name on the Lord’s Honours Board.
Although he says that anomoly isn’t an issue for him you can be sure he wants to correct it, and given he made 136 before retiring in his last warm-up game, backing the number three to make a ton here would still be a decent bet – it’s 10/3.
Lord’s is approaching its 200th birthday and has recently prodcued some pitches as stale as that age might suggest. There were six draws between 2006-08 and another one here is a tempting 13/8 price.