In what will be their first assignment post the Ashes, Australia will take on Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane on Thursday to kick off their home summer.
Gentle reminder, folks! It’s time to start setting your alarm clocks to 5.00 AM IST because guess what? The Australian Test summer is here! Oh yes, the most exciting part of the cricketing calendar beckons us and this year, with the return of both Steve Smith and David Warner, there is all the more reason to be extra-excited! Now, the Aussies will be playing host to Pakistan who, over the past few months, have had absolutely NOTHING go their way but hey, this is Pakistan we’re talking about, so write them off at your own risk. Anyway, I’ve been so desperately waiting for this moment, not because of the cricketing action, but because I’m going to show you all a way to hit jackpot and win $120,000 in ONE SHOT!
Steve Smith to score a century in the first innings @ 3.25
Warning: The content of this paragraph might be too biased and skewed in favour of Steve Smith. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into this maniac’s numbers. So Thursday will be Smith’s first Home Test since the Sydney Test in the 2017/18 Ashes (!!!) and just in case you forgot, he is coming on the back of a 774-run Ashes. Okay, let me strictly keep it to the “1st innings”. In the 2019 Ashes, he averaged 131.75 in the first innings, which included a hundred and a double hundred. In his last 5 innings on home soil in the first innings, too, he has a double hundred and a hundred to his name, averaging 144.75. What about Gabba? His last 4 first-inning knocks at the Gabba read 141*, 130, 48 and 133 and in 5 matches at this venue, he averages a whopping 120.75 in the first innings. Against Pakistan at the Gabba, he has one inning to his name, in 2016, where he scored a century. In fact, against the sub-continent side at home, Smith averages a ridiculous 159.50 with two centuries to his name in three innings. I know, I tried really hard to find a stat which goes against him, a number below 100, but I had no luck. Do yourself a favor and place this bet right away, for there isn’t a more obvious outcome in home Tests in Australia than that of Smith scoring a first-innings ton.
Josh Hazlewood to be Australia’s top bowler in the first-innings at 3.25
A stress fracture late last year - the injury which eventually resulted in him missing the World Cup - proved to be a blessing in disguise for Josh Hazlewood, who sported a revamped, more ruthless version 2.0 of himself in the Ashes. Trust me when I say he is not the Hazlewood of the old times who was a pushover. It was fitting that he took the wicket that helped Australia retain the urn as he had as big a contribution as any other Aussie in doing so. The last time Pakistan toured the Aussies, Hazlewood, with 15 wickets, ended the series as the highest wicket-taker. In his last 4 first-inning outings, Hazlewood has taken 14 wickets, more than any other Aussie bowler. He also has an impeccable record at the Gabba in the first-inning, averaging under 22 in 4 innings with a 5-wicket haul to his name. In fact, the last time these two sides met at the Gabba, Hazlewood, with 3 wickets, finished the 1st-innings as Australia’s top bowler and against Pakistan at home, he averages an incredible 19.60 in 3 Tests. Having taken 10 wickets in his last 2 Sheffield Shield matches as well, Hazlewood will enter the match in red-hot form, so my money is on the New South Welshman to strike gold for the Kangaroos in the first innings on Thursday.
Asad Shafiq Top batsman for Pakistan in the match @ 6.00
In a way, you’ve got to feel for Asad Shafiq who, over the course of the last decade, has been rock solid for Pakistan. Amidst all the chaos, Shafiq has always stood tall and is undoubtedly the most underrated batter in this Pakistani batting line-up. I was genuinely shocked when I saw the odds for him being their top batsman at 6.00, but who cares? A golden opportunity for us, the punters, to capitalize. First of all, he is coming on the back of two tons in the warm-up games against Australia A and CA XI. Mind you, with bowlers like Neser, Jhye Richardson and Sean Abbott, that was a really strong Australia A attack. On top of this, Shafiq loves playing against the Aussies, averaging a healthy 42.83 in 7 Tests against them. In Pakistan’s tour of the Aussies in 2016, Shafiq, with 239 runs to his name, ended the series as the third-highest run-getter for his side and in fact, scored 137 in his only match at the Gabba, where he almost pulled off an impossible heist. With the batsmen above him in not-so-great touch to go with Shafiq’s ongoing purple patch and his past exploits against the Aussies, it’s a no-brainer to back the 33-year-old to be Pakistan’s top batsman at the Gabba on Thursday.
Babar Azam to score more runs in the match than Azhar Ali @1.90
Azhar Ali might have been handed Test captaincy post the booting of Sarfaraz, but I genuinely fear the worst for him. He is in the midst of a massive downfall, and his form has slumped to an unimaginable extent, having averaged just 25.7 in 11 Tests since the start of 2018. He was humiliated in Pakistan’s last series against South Africa, where he managed just 59 runs in 6 innings at an average under 10. He has not had the greatest of starts to this tour as well, being dismissed for 11 and 1 in the warm-up match in Perth. In stark contrast, Babar Azam, having not had the greatest of starts to his Test career, looks like a man on the rise and he proved the same in the series against South Africa, ending as his side’s second-highest run-scorer, taking a liking to Steyn. Since the start of 2018, he has averaged a terrific 50.66 and unlike Azhar, he managed to set the stage on fire in the warm-up match from the word go, registering scores of 157 and 63. Keep in mind Azam is also coming on the back of a prolific T20I series against the Aussies where he scored 2 fifties in 3 games, so he might very well be aiming to carry the momentum forward. Historically, Azhar, who averages 58 against the Aussies in Tests, trumps Azam,no doubt, but at the moment, these are two men in completely different phases of their career and hence I’ve absolutely no doubt that Azam will outscore Azhar in the first Test.
Remember the part about winning $120,000 in one shot? Yeah, let me get to that. Parleying these events will give you odds of 120.41, meaning a $1000 investment will give you an ABSOLUTELY INSANE return of $120,412.