Australia v Pakistan Boxing Day Test: Latest Odds & Analysis

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Australia v Pakistan Boxing Day Test: Latest Odds & Analysis

India v Australia Predictions: 

When: Tuesday, December 26, 10:30am AEDT (5:00am IST)

Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Watch: Seven Network & 7Plus, Fox Cricket & Kayo Sports

Best Odds: Australia 1.25, Draw 5.75, Pakistan 15.0

There was no dearth of determination or spirit from the touring Pakistan side in the first Test in Perth, but execution was sadly lacking during key periods as they succumbed to a ruthless Australian bowling unit that could do no wrong.

The series now moves to the annual Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, where no visiting side other than India has been able to topple the hosts since England’s infamous ‘sprinkler dance’ in the 2010/11 Ashes.

It comes as no surprise that cricket betting sites have lifted Pakistan’s odds of winning to a borderline astronomical price given how comprehensively outplayed they were on a pitch that is expected to be similarly bowler-friendly, albeit a little less exaggerated.

The tourists have also lost one of their most promising bowlers of the previous Test, as Khurram Shahzad was ruled out of the series with both an abdominal tear and stress fracture to the ribs. 

His replacement is likely to either be 29-year-old medium pacer Hasan Ali, whose two Tests at home to Australia last year got him figures of 2-192, or finger spinner Sajid Khan (4-477 in that series!), who was flown in as cover for injured teammates Abrar Ahmed and Noman Ali.

After Marnus Labuschagne declared himself fit for this match after an injury scare in Perth, Australia’s team was expected to be unchanged at the time of publication.

The Numbers That Matter

  • Australia won eight of their last 12 MCG Tests (two draws, two losses to India)
  • Pakistan lost their last 15 Tests played in Australia
  • Marnus Labuschagne averages just 28 in Melbourne (six inns, 1x 50)
  • Mitch Marsh in 2023: 403 runs from eight innings (1x 100, 3x 50)

Captain Pat lights Up the ‘G

One of the major beneficiaries of the endeavour to spice up the MCG pitch under curator Matt Page has been Aussie captain Pat Cummins, whose nagging accuracy has allowed him to exploit the seam movement on the opening day and any uneven bounces in the second half of the match.

Cummins has collected five 3+ wicket hauls from his 11 Test innings in Melbourne for a total of 25 wickets in six games and was particularly miserly in the opening Test of this series, returning match figures of 3-46 from his 26 overs.

The only concern is that if Pakistan play him like the South Africans did last Boxing Day - ultra conservatively - and restrict him to a similar return of 1-50 from 30 overs.

His eight-wicket haul in Lahore last year was a stark reminder of how effective he can be on flat pitches, but with plenty of rain forecasted for Melbourne on Christmas Day, the pitch could sweat under covers and come up especially handy for seam bowlers like Cummins, who is an attractive price with betting sites to be top match bowler.

Prediction: Pat Cummins top match bowler - 4.33 @ Bet365

‘Smudge’ Tough To Budge in Melbourne

The era of the moribund MCG pitches was particularly favourable for former Aussie captain Steve Smith, who carved out centuries in four consecutive Melbourne Tests last decade. 

But as the bowlers got a little more to work with, his returns did not entirely diminish.

There were forgettable games against India (2020) and England (2021) on a personal level, but he was back in good touch last time with 85 against the South Africans.

In Perth last week, he found an outstanding delivery from the now injured Khurram Shahzad and then fell victim to some uneven bounce in the second innings, registering 76 runs for the match.

As Pakistan’s bowling weakens this week through injury at a venue where Smith averages 101 runs per Test match, he should grow stronger against one of the worst attacks (on paper) he’ll face at the MCG - especially if Pakistan go with Sajid Khan, who failed to dismiss him in the 2022 series.

Prediction: Steve Smith over 95.5 match runs - 1.83 @ Bet365

Down In Speed And Down In Wickets

Perhaps it was his knee injury, or an arduous three-year period in which he played across all formats for his country, or perhaps it was a combination of both.

But the 23-year-old prodigy Shaheen Shah Afridi has been noticeably slower in his bowling in 2023 and it’s beginning to reflect in his figures.

Shaheen has taken just five wickets across his last five Test innings, bowling a total of 81.2 overs along the way (at an average of 62), as the lack of speed takes one of his strongest weapons out of his arsenal.

Without regularly bowling 140+ kph, Shaheen like most medium-fast bowlers needs to be persistently accurate and find some swing or seam movement with the new ball. 

He wasn’t able to do so consistently in Perth and was of little trouble to the Aussie batters. His only two wickets for the match were both Usman Khawaja, who by the end of the Test had added 131 runs to the score. 

His form has dwindled terribly of late, and punters are noticing, with exchange betting sites having to wind in his price for taking fewer than 3.5 wickets for the Test.  

Prediction: Shaheen Shah Afridi under 3.5 match wickets - 1.72 @ Bet365