Australia has opted to stick with the same squad that demolished Pakistan in Perth, but their straightforward victory could damage Scott Boland’s hopes of making another fairytale Boxing Day appearance.
The only change to the squad for the second Test is the release of paceman Lance Morris – otherwise the 13 remaining players are unchanged.
Chasing 450 for victory, Pakistan were skittled for 89 in just 30.2 overs on Sunday, handing Australia a 360-run victory and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The light workload means workhorses Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will be fresh and raring to go for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, with Boland an outsider despite being named in the 13.
“Lance has been released for the Melbourne match but will stay prepared for Test cricket as he remains firmly in our plans for the summer, should an opportunity arise,” said chair of selectors George Bailey.
Boland has taken 35 wickets at a remarkable average of 20.3 across 10 Tests.
Two of those Tests have been at the MCG, including the 34-year-old’s memorable haul of 6-7 against England in 2021.
“I think all the bowlers are pretty fresh after (the win in Perth). It’s basically the ideal start to the summer,” said Pat Cummins.
The way Pakistan capitulated on a cracking Optus Stadium deck could have a lingering psychological effect for the tourists.
“We know from travelling overseas, if you go to foreign conditions and if you’re a batter and you don’t score runs, you start questioning things,” Cummins said.
“As a bowler if you haven’t had a huge impact, you start looking at your own game perhaps a bit more than you do at home.
“We love these conditions. We know these conditions really well. I think that’s what makes playing and winning away from home so difficult.
“I know we will have a pretty stress free week going into Boxing Day. I think everyone’s in a really good place.”
Pakistan will have the chance to iron out their kinks during a two-day tour match against Victoria at the Junction Oval, starting Friday.
The match will give Marcus Harris another chance to push his case to replace the retiring David Warner later this summer, while Peter Handscomb and Will Pucovski are also set to play.
Australia v Pakistan 2nd Test: Pat Cummins, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.