Hafeez to lead Pakistan in 2nd ODI against Australia in Melbourne
MELBOURNE – Pakistan, which had a difficult time on its tour of Australia, was handed another blow on Saturday with Azhar Ali, their One-Day International captain, ruled out of the second ODI in Melbourne on Sunday.
Azhar picked up a hamstring injury during Pakistan’s 92-run defeat to Steven Smith’s men in the opening game of the five-match series on Friday. With Sarfraz Ahmed, the regular vice-captain, having flown back home to be with his ailing mother, Mohammad Hafeez will be stand-in captain in what will be his first ODI in charge, though he has led in Twenty20 Internationals before. He is also likely to open the batting in place of Azhar.
Hafeez, 36, in fact, had not been named in the original squad, only being called up as the 16th member last week following a request from Azhar and Mickey Arthur, the coach.
Shoaib Malik’s availability is also under a cloud for the Melbourne game, with the all-rounder still recovering from an illness that kept him out of the opener. If his return is delayed, Asad Shafiq could come in.
The missing names will come as a setback to a Pakistan side still trying to regroup after a 3-0 sweep in the Tests. On Friday, 17 overs into the game and with Australia reduced to 78 for 5, the visitor might have believed its fortunes had turned, but a stunning unbeaten hundred from Matthew Wade and his 82-run partnership with Glenn Maxwell took the game away. Despite the top-order failure, Australia’s long tail came good and it could post 268 for 9. Its pacers then exposed Pakistan’s batting frailties to bowl it out for 176.
Arthur pulled up his batsmen over their poor strike rates in the game and urged them to aim for scores closer to 300. “I thought from the fifth ODI in England (which Pakistan had won in September) we had devised a brand that worked for us and a brand that would be sustainable for us at international level,” he said. “But we went back to the old-style cricket tonight, which doesn’t really have a future and it means that we don’t get the scores of 300 that we need.
“The players have got the ability, there’s no doubt. This is an unbelievable group of players and they work so hard. It’s just about backing themselves. It’s all about getting confidence in those situations to play the cut or hit one over extra cover and try and put some pressure back on the bowler. That’s a confidence thing.”
For Australia, the selectors had said that Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the star pacemen, would have some time off during the ODI series, ahead of next month’s Test tour to India. Hazlewood, who sat out of the first game, could therefore return to the XI in the second game.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Rahat Ali, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa. –ICC