Butt to shoulder more responsibility for team
Salman Butt will lead Pakistan into the Headingley Test after Shahid Afridi resigned and retired straight after the Lords Test. Afridi’s shot in the second innings, when Pakistan had somewhat of a chance still to win, was terrible and unexpected from a man of his temperament.
Afridi has anointed Butt as the man for the job, but only time will tell whether having the captaincy at this stage in his career will affect his performances with the bat, which Pakistan so heavily rely on.
Australia’s victory in Lords was a good sign of being able to fight their way out of a sticky situation.
They collapsed in both innings of the match, after very solid starts lead by reliable opener Simon Katich, and Pakistan were looking good at stages during the chase in the final innings of the match.
Katich is the linchpin for the Australian batting at the moment and Pakistan must target him if they are to prosper at Leeds. Far too many times they got sucked into bowling into his pads. They should learn from Katich’s dismissal in the second innings – wide of off stump is the line.
Ben Hilfenhaus and Marcus North are in doubt for the Australians.
North, struck by an illness, should be fit to play while Hilfenhaus sustained a shoulder injury in the field at Lords and failed to train on Monday at Headingley.
Hilfhenhaus’ return was superb, with wickets and a maiden Test fifty; Australia will be giving him every chance to prove his fitness.
If unfit, South Australian paceman Peter George is expected to make his debut on a ground that traditionally offers a little bit for the quick bowlers.
Australia played four quicks at Headingley against England but expect them to have a similar structure to the side that participated at Lords.
Pakistan have one forced change, with Afridi out. Perhaps Shoaib Malik will replace him, to add a bit of experience to the batting and still provide Pakistan with the second spinner.
Reports from the UK suggest that there is a chance off spinner Saeed Ajmal will replace leg spinner Danish Kaneria in the side, with the aim of targeting the five left-handers in the Australian side.
Kaneria was very impressive at Lords and did a great job on day one applying pressure on the Australian lower order. His set-up of Mitchell Johnson was high class.
It appears the great English summer may be over, with rain forecast for the first three days of the game, and that cloud will have a similar effect to the heavy cloud cover experienced at Lords.
Batting could be tough.
It’s hard to go past Australia in this encounter. They showed at Lords that they have a lot of improvement to come in the batting department and their favouritism isn’t due to their form, more so, that of their opponents.
Pakistan struggled with the bat at Lords but their bowling kept them in the match, and under new leader Salman Butt, Pakistan will be hoping that others will copy his application with the bat in the top seven.