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Australia vs Pakistan: Hosts set to name an unchanged side for Boxing Day Test

Struggling batsman Nic Maddinson was given a reprieve for the second Test against Pakistan, with Australia set to take an unchanged side into the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

cricket Updated: Dec 25, 2016 11:33 IST
AP
AP
Australia vs Pakistan

Australia's captain Steve Smith (C) adjusts his collar as he walks off the field with teammates after beating Pakistan in the first Test.(AFP)

Struggling batsman Nic Maddinson was given a reprieve for the second Test against Pakistan, with Australia set to take an unchanged side into the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on Monday.

There had been speculation that Maddinson, who has scored 0, 1 and 4 runs in three innings, could be dropped in favor of uncapped allrounder Hilton Cartwright, but captain Steve Smith said Sunday that selectors opted to stay with the team that beat Pakistan in the first Test in Brisbane by 39 runs.

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“(Nic) hasn’t started the way he would have liked,” Smith said after a Christmas morning training session. “I was really proud of him in the second innings in Brisbane to come out and do the thing for the team and try and score quick runs and have a crack. We brought the allrounder into the squad because the bowlers had a pretty heavy workload, but they’ve pulled up well.”

Pakistan’s stirring fourth-innings comeback at the Gabba meant Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood each bowled 56 overs for the match, while Jackson Bird bowled 45. The visitors scored 450 runs in their second innings.

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Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq would not say Sunday whether Pakistan would make changes, but said pace bowler Mohammad Amir had pulled up well from knee and thigh injuries in Brisbane.

One of the few players in Pakistan’s side who has played in a Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, the 42-year-old Misbah says he has never seen such self-belief among a touring side in Australia — thanks to the fourth-inning comeback in Brisbane.

“The guys are relaxed and confident that they can perform well here,” Misbah said. “You can see that everybody’s spending a lot of time in the nets, working on the basics.”

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Security has been increased at the MCG, where a crowd of 60,000 is expected on Monday, following the arrest of seven people over a terror-related plot in the city. Those charged Friday were allegedly planning to attack Melbourne’s Flinders Street train station, nearby Federation Square and St. Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Day.

However, there has been no suggestion that the MCG has been targeted.