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India v England

Pretty in Pink: Wisden’s day-night Test world XI

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Ahead of the first pink-ball match between England and India, we’ve picked out an XI of players who have impressed so far in the short history of day-night Test cricket.

Comprising of players who’ve featured in at least two pink-ball Tests, it’s of little surprise that this XI is heavily-dominated by Australia, who have played eight games and won all of them.

Nonetheless, representatives from Pakistan, England and New Zealand make the cut, too.

David Warner – Australia

6 matches, 596 runs @ 59.60, HS: 335 not out

Despite playing six day-night Tests, Warner finds a place in this side on the back of just one knock: his monstrous unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in 2019. Thanks to that innings, no-one has as many pink-ball Test runs as the Australian left-hander.

Usman Khawaja – Australia

4 matches, 307 runs @ 43.85, HS: 145

Khawaja looked at home against the pink ball immediately. With Australia having already lost their 2016 series with South Africa, the left-hander carved out a 308-ball 145 in his first day-night Test innings to inspire the hosts to a seven-wicket consolation win. A knock of 74 followed a month later against Pakistan and Khawaja reached fifty again in the first men’s pink-ball Ashes Test in 2017.

Azhar Ali – Pakistan

4 matches, 474 runs @ 67.71, HS: 302*

Azhar became pink-ball Test cricket’s first triple-centurion when he finished unbeaten on 302 against West Indies at Dubai in 2016 to set up a 56-run win. It’s been a tougher game since, though he nearly helped Pakistan chase down 490 against Australia in 2016 when his fourth-innings 179-ball 71 set the platform for a brazen final total of 450.

Marnus Labuschagne – Australia

4 matches, 489 runs @ 81.50, HS: 162

Labuschagne is one of only two men to have hit two pink-ball hundreds. Both arrived in the space of two weeks at the backend of 2019, with Pakistan and New Zealand on the end of the Australian’s run-spree. After his first four pink-ball Test innings, Labuschagne averaged 109, reaching fifty on all four occasions.

Joe Root – England

3 matches, 263 runs @ 52.60, HS: 136

England’s Test captain has crossed fifty in every pink-ball Test he’s played in. There was a century in a thumping innings win over West Indies, while he bounced back in heavy defeats to Australia and New Zealand: two first-innings single-figure scores were followed by half-centuries in the second.

Asad Shafiq – Pakistan

4 matches, 401 runs @ 50.12, HS: 137

The other man with two pink-ball hundreds. Unfortunately for Shafiq, those two centuries have been spirited efforts in defeats for his side. At the Gabba in 2016, such was the excellence of his fourth-innings 207-ball 137, he was named Player of the Match in a losing cause. He was at it again in the final innings against Sri Lanka in Dubai the following year, too, hitting 112 off 176 balls in a 68-run defeat.

Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk) – Pakistan

3 matches, 180 runs @ 45.00, HS: 68 | 12 dismissals

Only two keepers have effected more dismissals in pink-ball Test cricket, while Sarfaraz has impressed with the bat, too. As his teammates crumbled in their first innings at the Gabba in 2016, he hit 59 not out off just 64 balls to rescue Pakistan some respectability from the embarrassing position of 67-8.

Pat Cummins – Australia

5 matches, 26 wickets @ 16.23, BBI: 6-23

Cummins averages even lower than Mitchell Starc (below) in pink-ball Tests and possesses a fine strike rate of 38.8. While his return of 10-62 against Sri Lanka in 2019 was sublime, Cummins was equally as masterful in Australia’s most recent win over India, taking 4-21 as the visitors were dismantled for just 36 at Adelaide.

Mitchell Starc – Australia

8 matches, 46 wickets @ 18.86, BBI: 6-66

Starc’s game appears to go to another level with the pink ball in his hands. Beyond his lowly average, his strike rate in day-night Tests is an astonishing 36. No bowler has as many pink-ball Test wickets as the lethal left-armer.

Nathan Lyon – Australia

8 matches, 29 wickets @ 27.41, BBI: 6-70

Spinners have yet to truly come to the party in pink-ball Test cricket: of those to have played in at least three day-night contests, only three have taken more than 10 wickets. Sri Lanka’s Dilruwan Perera has performed admirably, taking 12 at 23.58, but Pakistan’s Yasir Shah has struggled, with his 18 wickets delivered at an average of 46.44. Lyon tops the pile courtesy of a hefty number of appearances, but also thanks to impressive consistency, with his best haul the nine wickets he took against New Zealand in the first-ever pink-ball Test.

Trent Boult – New Zealand

2 matches, 16 wickets @ 12.50, BBI: 6-32

Afforded the opportunity of playing in just two pink-ball Tests so far, Boult has delivered in both. Against Australia in 2015, a fourth-innings haul of 5-60 wasn’t able to deliver victory, but in 2018 New Zealand were winners in thumping fashion. The left-arm quick took 6-32 as England were bowled out for 58 at Auckland, eventually succumbing to an innings defeat.

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