KARACHI - The top two teams in the ICC World Test Championship standings do battle in Karachi and both Pakistan and Australia will re-shuffle their sides today (Saturday) at National Stadium Karachi.

After a dull draw in the opening Test of the series in Rawalpindi, both sides will make changes to their team for their meeting in Karachi. Just 14 wickets fell across five days play in that historic series opener and all parties will be hoping for a better prepared pitch for the second Test, after the corresponding pitch in Rawalpindi received a ‘below average’ rating from the ICC. With a pitch more conducive to five-day cricket likely for the second Test, both teams will inject some fresh faces into their line-up in an attempt to gain a positive result.

Pakistan may look to re-shuffle their pace attack with Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf all in contention to feature, while Australia are expected to include a second spinner should conditions suit. Uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson may win the nod to partner the experienced Nathan Lyon, while left-armer Ashton Agar could also be given a chance to impress. History suggests Pakistan will be hard to beat in this contest, with the hosts having won 23 and lost just two of the 43 Tests they have played at the National Stadium.

Conversely Australia have a poor record at the venue and are yet to claim a Test match victory from eight attempts at the ground. Australia currently sits on top of the ICC World Test Championship standings with a 77.77 win percentage, while Pakistan is second on a 66.66 win percentage. It was at this ground some 24 years ago that star Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi made his Test debut and the then 18-year-old made an instant impression by claiming his maiden five-wicket haul during Australia’s first innings.

The match went on to be drawn, with Mark Waugh’s classy 117 in the second innings offset by an unbeaten 120 from Ijaz Ahmed on the fifth and final day as both sides shook hands early. Interestingly, a dry Karachi pitch meant both teams selected three spinners for the Test. Afridi partnered tall off-spinner Arshad Khan and left-armer Shakeel Ahmed, while Australia used the versatile Colin Miller alongside New South Wales duo Stuart MacGill and Gavin Robertson.

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja said: “I hope that this series, going forward, will become more interesting, but only one match is done, so don’t jump the gun, there’s a lot of cricket to be played.”

Australia captain Pat Cummins said: “Our intel for Karachi and Lahore (is that two spinners) is probably the way to go. We’ll have a look at the wicket first. (Playing two spinners) may have been helpful here but I don’t think it would have made too much difference.”