Two cricketing heavyweights are set to face each other once again as both the teams travel to UAE for a five match ODI series. The series kickstarts on the 22nd of March at Sharjah, where two matches will be played followed by one at Abu Dhabi and two at Dubai.
The 15-man Australian squad was the talking point last week as some of the big names were missing. Australia has taken the same team to the UAE to face Pakistan the same squad that claimed its first series win in India since 2009 and the continuity is a positive sign that they at least narrowed down options.
While many expected a return of Steve Smith and David Warner, the duo won’t be seen in action just yet. Both are recovering from their respective elbow injuries and are expected to be in action during the Indian Premier League. Paceman Mitchell Starc hasn’t recovered from his muscle strain and the focus is on getting him fit for the World Cup. Therefore, he won’t be touring UAE. Out-of-form Aaron Finch will lead the side and will have Alex Carey and Pat Cummins as his deputies.
For Pakistan, Shoaib Malik will lead the side in the absence of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi have also been rested for the series while veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez has been left out as he is yet to recover from a thumb injury.
Pakistan 32 – 62 Australia, Tied 1
1st ODI – March 22nd, Friday @ Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, Sharjah – 04.30pm
2nd ODI – March 24th, Sunday @ Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, Sharjah – 04.30pm
3rd ODI – March 27th, Wednesday @ Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi – 04.30pm
4th ODI – March 29th, Friday @ Dubai International Cricket Stadium , Dubai – 04.30pm
5th ODI – March 31st, Sunday @ Dubai International Cricket Stadium , Dubai – 04.30pm
A bruised and battered Pakistan would be desperate to gain some confidence ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup after a rather disappointing tour of South Africa, where they failed to win even one of the three series, having lost the Tests, ODIs and T20s as well. Australia on the other hand will head to UAE after a long home series. The upcoming tour will be particularly crucial for Australia as this is going to be their last International series leading up to the World Cup. Pakistan on the other hand will contest against England before they embark on their 2019 World Cup journey.
Time is quickly running out for Australia to settle its ODI plans before embarking on a World Cup title defence in just over two months’ time. Luckily many long lost answers were found in India earlier this month when they miraculously came from 2-0 down to win the five-match series. The win marked the nation’s first bilateral ODI series victory in its past seven attempts, which stretched back to January 2017.
Australia ended a long drought after the series win against India and would be full of confidence. They would also know at the back of their head that Steve Smith and David Warner would be back with the team after this series which will further add to their morale.
Usman Khawaja was in sensational form against India and notched up two centuries and a 90. Peter Handscomb has also looked solid in the middle and in a place like UAE where spin will be a major factor, Khawaja and Handscomb would be the mainstays of Australian batting lineup.
Shaun Marsh has been sidelined as Ashton turner adds more value in the lower middle order. Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins will take the new ball while Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon would be their tweakers. Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell will share the remaining 10 overs between them.
Pakistan have rested a lot of their key players. Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan have been given chances on the basis of their PSL performance while Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim would be two important players for the side as their all-round abilities would serve the team in both the departments.
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik, Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Ali, Shan Masood, Umar Akmal, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Hasnain
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (vc, wk), Pat Cummins (vc), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa
A crucial series ahead of the World Cup!
Nevertheless, it is going to be a vital series for both the sides and they would aim at finding the correct team combinations and much needed momentum before they face the world.
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Leagues up in the Lobby soon, Go get ’em champs!