Pakistan lock horns with Australia in 1st ODI in Brisbane today
BRISBANE – Momentum will be with Australia, the home side, when they lock horns with Pakistan in the first of five One-Day Internationals in Brisbane on Friday.
Coming off a 3-0 series sweep of Pakistan in the preceding Test series, Australia, the ICC Cricket World Cup defending champion, look a formidable unit, having whitewashed New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee series before Pakistan came calling.
Chris Lynn and Billy Stanlake, the Queenslanders, will make their ODI debuts in the game, Steven Smith confirmed on Thursday. Lynn will join the middle order while Stanlake will partner Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and James Faulkner in the pace department with Josh Hazlewood having been rested.
The only point of worry for Australia in the ODIs against New Zealand was the form of Aaron Finch. The right-hand opener managed just 22 runs from three games and found no place in the squad for the Pakistan games. Travis Head will partner David Warner at the top of the batting order in Finch’s absence, leaving no place for Usman Khawaja in the XI. Adam Zampa has also been left out, and Glenn Maxwell, back in the side after 13 months, will be the lead spinner.
Where Australia looks like a settled side, Pakistan has been rattled, not only by the outcome of the Tests, but also by the loss of two experienced players from the squad. Mohammad Irfan, the paceman, flew back after the death of his mother, while Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, made the journey back home because of his mother’s ill health.
In its last ODI assignment, Pakistan brushed West Indies aside 3-0 at home last year. But facing a No 9-ranked side at home is a different prospect from challenging the top-ranked Australia in its backyard.
Pakistan will draw confidence from its performance in the warm-up fixture against Cricket Australia XI earlier in the week, where it stamped its authority with an emphatic 196-run win, albeit against a side with no big names.
Azam, who top-scored in the match for Pakistan with 98, will be crucial to Pakistan’s chances. In the series against West Indies he scored a century in each of the three games, and will look to bring some of that form into this series as well.
In the bowling department, Hasan Ali, the right-arm seamer, displayed promise with 3 for 18 in the warm-up game. Junaid Khan, who flew in to replace Irfan, last played an ODI in March 2015, but the left-hand seamer’s ability to extract extra bounce might be handy in Australian conditions if he gets a look-in.
Pakistan (from): Azhar Ali (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 XI: David Warner, Travis Head, Steven Smith (capt), Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Billy Stanlake. –ICC