Australia vs Pakistan First Test Preview

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The first red ball of the summer will be bowled at The Gabba on Thursday as Australia kicks off the first of three Tests against Pakistan.

Fresh from retaining the urn with an inspiring performance in England, the Aussies return home beaming with confidence as they look to improve in the world rankings.

Thursday will also mark an important moment in Steve Smith’s career as he plays his first Test on home soil since the scandal in South Africa.

Not surprisingly, the Aussies are favoured heavily to get the wood over Pakistan. There might be very little value on offer straight-up, but we’re confident we’ve found some strong betting plays in our entire First Test Preview below.

Match Betting

The official squads will be announced on Wednesday, but it’s pretty clear who the Australian selectors are leaning towards.

Cameron Bancroft is by far the most controversial selection after a horror tour of England. The West Australian slightly redeemed himself with a strong 49 in a recent tour match, but overall, Bancroft’s struggles overseas and in the Sheffield Shield are of major concern.

Away from Bancroft the rest of the Australian team looks pretty solid. Like in England, there’s nothing to say Australia’s hopes won’t rely entirely on the bat of Steve Smith, but the addition of Travis Head, who performed exceptionally well in Brisbane against Sri Lanka back in January, could make a difference.

There is also plenty of hype around Joe Burns, who makes his return to Test cricket after falling just 20 runs shy of a double ton against Sri Lanka in Canberra earlier in February. Burns has taken the crease twice at The Gabba to mixed results, but his recent Shield performances have been encouraging.

While Australia should win this Test on class alone, there’s nothing to say they won’t have their hands full with some of Pakistan’s top talent. Babar Azam, who was the eighth-highest run scorer at the Cricket World Cup, just recently put up 157 runs against Australia A in a tour match last week.

Captain Azhar Ali isn’t to be taken lightly, either. The top order bastman is averaging just over 43 runs in Test cricket and brings some serious leadership with him to the crease.

From a bowling standpoint Australia also has an edge, but Justin Langer’s men will need to be wary of Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas and spinner Yasir Shar. Overall though, we should see Australia stave off an early Pakistan challenge before winning comfortably.

Tip: Back Australia to Win @ $1.25

Australia Top 1st Innings Ruscorer

The good far outweighs the bad when it comes to Steve Smith’s outings at the Gabba.

Smith has put up a century in each of his last three Test matches played in Brisbane, making him the most sensible Australian to bet on when it comes to the 1st Innings Runscorer market.

Some might say the pressure is on the 30-year-old to deliver a big performance in his return home, but since we saw Smith completely hold his nerve in hostile conditions during The Ashes, don’t be surprised if he puts up another big total this weekend.

Tip: Back Steve Smith @ $3.00

Pakistan Top 1st Innings Runscorer

There isn’t a great deal of experience in the Pakistan batting order when it comes to playing down under, but if you’ve been paying attention to the leadup to Day One you’ll know how dangerous middle-order man Asad Shafiq can be.

The 33-year-old veteran put up a century in each of his last two tour matches against Australia. Shafiq has only taken the crease once in Brisbane, but he left his mark by putting up 137 runs vs Australia back in 2016.

Tip: Back Asad Shafiq @ $5.00

Australia Top 1st Innings Wicket Taker

There’s every chance we Mitchell Starc unleash as he finally returns home to familiar conditions.

Starc has spent most of the year trying to combat slow and boring English pitches, which he did extraordinarily well taking a crucial four wickets during the Fourth Test against England in Manchester.

Now, Starc can loosen up a bit with the Gabba’s lively surface – a ground he’s enjoyed enormous success on. In six Test matches, Starc has taken a combined 24 wickets, two of which came against Sri Lanka back in January.

Tip: Back Mitchell Starc @ $3.75

Pakistan Top 1st Innings Wicket Taker

It’s a bit of a coin flip between Mohammad Abbas and Imran Khan here, but after Australia struggled with medium pacers in England, you’re best off sticking with the favourite.

Abbas hasn’t bowled down under before, but he did show some real poise South Africa taking three wickets in Johannesburg back in January. Abbas also bowled exceptionally well during Pakistan’s tour of England last year, so he looks strong value at his current price.

Tip: Mohammad Abbas @ $3.25

Tips, recommendations and commentary are for entertainment only. We provide no warranty about accuracy or completeness. You should make your own assessment before placing a bet.