Pakistan look to series-levelling victory against Australia in Perth
PERTH – Pakistan have not been at their best under Babar Azam, and another defeat would make it five in a row for the world’s No 1 team.
Australia are unstoppable. In a format they have historically struggled to come to grips with, no less. They have been rampant in each of the completed games in their home summer so far. It’s more proof of the value of being able to identify specialists at a time when the three formats are becoming increasingly distant in terms of the skills they require, and of building a squad with well-defined roles.
Pakistan are somehow clinging on to their No.1 ranking, but their performances are increasingly doing little to justify that position. Their 3-0 sweep at the hands of a weakened Sri Lanka, in their own conditions, seems to have sent them on a tailspin. Heads have rolled, new captains appointed, but the results have remained the same.
What happened last time
Babar Azam was once again the shining jewel in a top order that fell apart rapidly. Iftikhar Ahmed arrested the slide with a 34-ball 62* late in the innings, to give Pakistan a reasonable score to defend. But Steve Smith demolished the target with 51-ball 80* as Australia cantered to victory.
What they said
Steve Smith, Australia batsman: “I thought the bowlers set it up early. It was probably a 170 wicket I reckon at least. They bowled beautifully. Then it was just about timing the run and fortunately I was able to do that.”
Babar Azam, Pakistan captain: “Steve Smith took the match away. He played a magnificent innings. It’s very difficult when we lose early wickets.”
A bright and sunny evening awaits in Perth. This will be the new stadium’s T20I debut. It has hosted two ODIs prior to this; in the last of those, Australia were shot out for 152, before South Africa ran down the target with nearly 21 overs to spare. –ICC