Classy Khawaja well worth backing to extend golden run
Australia could be given a scare
New Zealand v Bangladesh
Sky Sports 2, 10pm Sunday
South Africa v Sri Lanka
Sky Sports 2, 8am Monday
Australia v Pakistan
BT Sport 3, 11pm Monday
Pakistan played some superb Test cricket during the drawn series in England last summer and they gave Australia a scare in the first Test at the Gabba.
Set a colossal 490 to win, Pakistan ended up just 40 runs short as Asad Shafiq (137) and some gutsy tailenders atoned for their first innings of 142 all out.
Pace bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz had caused problems for the Aussies earlier in the match, taking four wickets each in the first innings, and Pakistan could be lively 5-1 shots for the second Test in Melbourne.
Australia certainly don’t look banker material given their fragile lower-order batting and they lost their first home series of the season to South Africa.
But they have an excellent MCG record, winning 13 of their last 16 Tests, and Usman Khawaja can build on last year’s 144 and 56 against the West Indies.
Khawaja’s record since being recalled to the Test team in November 2015 is superb – his last 20 innings have included scored five centuries, four of them at home. He also made 97 against the Proteas in Perth and a classy 74 in the second innings of the first Test against Pakistan.
Born in Islamabad, the Aussie number three will be eager to impress against the country of his birth and he is worth a bet at 6-1 to score a ton in the first innings.
New Zealand’s three-match ODI series against Bangladesh starts at 10pm tomorrow and the tourists welcome back exciting bowler Mustafizur Rahman.
The left-armer claimed three five-wicket hauls in his first nine one-dayers, and took 4-23 on his T20 Blast debut for Sussex in July. Injury kept the Fizz out of the recent series against England but he took two wickets against a New Zealand 11 in Thursday’s warm-up game and is a generous 3-1 to be the Tigers’ top bowler in Christchurch.
Five years ago Sri Lanka lost their Test series in South Africa 2-1 but bookmakers expect a more one-sided contest this time and the Proteas are evens for a 3-0 clean sweep.
The first Test starts early on Monday in Port Elizabeth and an inexperienced South Africa side are aiming to follow up their impressive series win in Australia.
Quinton de Kock was one of the stars of the show down under and the wicketkeeper should be in the thick of the action against Sri Lanka, who are sure to be tested by quick bowlers Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott.
Bet365 quote De Kock’s performance line at 120.5, with one point per run, ten per catch and 25 per stumping.
His performances in the first two Tests against Australia made up at 168 and 174 while his home Test tallies this year included 218 against England and 192 against New Zealand.
U Khawaja to score a first-innings century
1pt 6-1 Hills
M Rahman top Bangladesh wicket-taker
2pts 3-1 Ladbrokes
Q de Kock over 120.5 performance points
3pts 5-6 bet365