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Updated December 26th, 2023 at 06:32 IST

Pakistan wins the toss and bowls against Australia in the Melbourne Cricket Ground test

In the second test of the three-match series, Australia was put in to bat by Pakistani captain Shan Masood after he won the toss on Tuesday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground under cloudy skies.

Usman Khawaja
Australia's Usman Khawaja, left and teammate Travis Head walk off the ground after warming up before their cricket test match against Pakistan | Image: AP
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Pakistan captain Shan Masood won the toss Tuesday and sent Australia in to bat in overcast conditions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the second test of the three-match series.

A top temperature of 26 Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) was forecast. Heavy rain overnight had cleared but further showers and possible thunderstorms were forecast for Tuesday afternoon in Melbourne.

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Australia, which leads the series 1-0 after a 360-run win in the first test in Perth, named an unchanged side.

“There’s been a bit of weather around so we’d just like to avail every opportunity with the ball,” Masood said.

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Australia captain Pat Cummins said he also would have chosen to bowl first on the grass-tinged pitch.

Pakistan made three changes. Wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed has been dropped after scoring seven runs in the Perth test, making way for the return of Mohammad Rizwan. Fast bowler Khurram Shahzad, who claimed five wickets on debut in Perth, has been ruled out of the Melbourne test due to a rib injury.

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Medium-pacer Faheem Ashraf (1-130) has been dropped, as seamers Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza return to the side. Specialist spinner Sajid Khan was named in a 12-man squad but overlooked for the Melbourne test.

Spinner Noman Ali is unavailable for the series after undergoing surgery in Melbourne last week for appendicitis. Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed, who missed out the first test, was also ruled out of the second test because of a leg injury.

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Australia opener Usman Khawaja, who was reprimanded by the International Cricket Council for wearing a black armband in support of Palestinians in Gaza during the first test, said before the second test that he had no plans to wear the armband again during the series.

ICC regulations prevent cricketers from displaying messages of political, religious or racial causes during international matches. Khawaja was born in Pakistan and is the first Muslim to play test cricket for Australia.

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But the left-hander’s application to the ICC to be allowed to display images of a dove holding an olive branch — recognized as a universal symbol of peace — on his right boot and on the back of his bat during the Melbourne test was turned down.

Khawaja said on Instagram that the ICC’s ruling was “inconsistent,” while Cummins defended his opener for standing up for his beliefs.

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“He’s done it really respectfully,” Cummins said Monday. “But obviously there’s rules in place and I believe the ICC have said they’re not going to approve that. They make up the rules and you’ve got to accept it.”

The third test in the three-match series is scheduled to begin Jan. 3 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Pakistan won its last test in Australia nearly 30 years ago.

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Lineups:

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Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood (captain), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza, Aamir Jamal.

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Published December 26th, 2023 at 06:32 IST

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