134 runs, 9 wickets and 7 wickets. These were Australia’s winning margins in the three T20 Internationals against Sri Lanka to start the home season. With all due respect to Sri Lanka, there was a stark difference between the quality of the two sides and even Australia wouldn’t have expected such a canter in all the matches. Sri Lanka put up a much better show in the last match. However, it still wasn’t enough for them to run the hosts close.
A stern challenge awaits now for the Aaron Finch-led side with the number 1 T20I side Pakistan visiting the country. But a lot of things have changed for the Men in Green since their 3-0 loss to Sri Lanka at home. Sarfaraz Ahmed not only lost his captaincy but his place too from the side. The veterans Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez haven’t been picked despite the new captain Babar Azam requesting for the duo to be selected.
The team is filled with some of the unknown faces which also includes an exciting 19-year-old Mohammad Musa who is expected to play at some stage in this series. Pakistan is always known for their potent bowling attack and it is no different this time around. Sri Lanka could only pick six Australian wickets throughout the series but it won’t be the case with Pakistan.
They have enough variety and experience in their attack which will make sure that Australia’s batting is tested to the hilt. The visitors’ number 1 position in the format is also at stake and the team led by Babar Azam will definitely put up a good show. It is expected to be a well-fought series.
Australia are likely to persist with the same XI that took the field for the third T20I against Sri Lanka. They have no reason to change it as well with David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith firing all guns blazing at the top. Rather Warner is yet to be dismissed in the three matches and would be looking to continue in the same vein. The middle-order though is untested to a large extent and Pakistan would love to expose it in Glenn Maxwell’s absence.
The likes of McDermott, Turner have a chance to prove themselves while Alex Carey didn’t get to bat at all in the previous series. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson will be the pace bowlers while Adam Zampa and the all-rounder Ashton Agar looking after the spin duties.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (C), Steve Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (WK), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson.
Pakistan are expected to go with experienced players with this being only the start of the series. The newbies in Khushdil Shah and Mohammad Musa might have to wait for their chance to come. Having said that, the way Misbah-ul-Haq has been upbeat about the young pacers, the visitors can also surprise the Aussies at the SCG.
As of now though it seems that the trio of Amir, Wahab and Irfan will look after the pace bowling attack while Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim are the spinners in the team. Usman Qadir might also get a go given his experience of bowling in these conditions. Mohammad Rizwan will be the one taking the gloves with Sarfaraz Ahmed dropped from the team.
Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed/Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan.
Focus will be on
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
There is no doubt about the talent he possesses with the bat. He is the number 1 batsman in the shortest format. But Babar Azam will have an extra responsibility of leading the team this time around and that too in a country like Australia where your move will be analysed. It will be interesting to see how he handles the heat Down Under and will have one of the best Pakistan captains in Misbah-ul-Haq in the coaching staff to assist him as well.
David Warner (Australia)
Well! This man has been a beast when it comes to playing the limited-overs format. He swatted aside Sri Lanka bowlers disdainfully. But David Warner will face a stern challenge while facing Pakistan who boasts of an all-round bowling attack. There will be no respite whatsoever and if he manages to score runs against this attack, the southpaw’s confidence will increase manifold.
Head to Head
Matches – 20 | Australia won – 7 | Pakistan won – 12 | Tie – 1
1 – Pakistan and Australia have played only a solitary T20I Down Under back in 2010 and the hosts had won the thriller by just 2 runs defending 127.
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Match Timings – 9 AM IST; 2:30 PM local time; 3:30 AM GMT
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