Pakistan take on Australia in 1st T20 today
DUBAI (Web Desk) – The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi plays host for the first encounter of the three-match T20I series between Pakistan and Australia on Wednesday 24 October.
After an impressive effort in the first Test to salvage an unexpected draw, Australia’s inexperienced Test side went down by 373 runs in a horror performance in the second and final encounter of the two-match series, and the visitors will be hoping the shortest format offers a chance of redemption.
Earlier this year, Australia and Pakistan met three times in the tri-series in Zimbabwe, with Pakistan emerging victorious twice, including their triumph in the final.
Pakistan, the highest-ranked team in the MRF ICC Team Rankings for T20Is, are a fairly settled T20I unit, not that they haven’t rung some changes. Babar Azam, who averages north of 50 in T20Is, missed Pakistan’s last T20 assignment in Zimbabwe due to a fractured arm, but both he and Imad Wasim, who returns to Pakistan’s 20-over side after being exiled for nearly a year, are included.
Mohammad Amir, who was dropped for the two-Test series despite being largely considered the leader of the attack across formats since his reintegration into the international side, once again misses out. He has returned to domestic cricket to rediscover his rhythm.
Instead, the likes of Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan are once again expected to be Pakistan’s go-to men with the ball. The latter has 32 T20I scalps from 23 matches at a brilliant average of 18.
Australia, meanwhile, will have gained some confidence after thrashing the UAE in the only T20 on Monday, though stiffer tests await. The visitors are likely to keep faith with Monday’s line-up, with a swashbuckling top four of Chris Lynn, D’Arcy Short, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell hoping to unsettle the Pakistan bowlers. Their batting doesn’t run particularly deep, though, so Australia will hope their top-order firepower yields the desired results.
The signs are good for opener Short, who smacked an unbeaten 68 from 53 balls as Australia cruised to a seven-wicket victory over UAE. Finch (1) and Lynn (20) weren’t at their best, but Pakistan’s bowlers will be wary of their talents.
Billy Stanlake and Nathan Coulter-Nile took two wickets apiece against UAE and will be hoping for similar success on Wednesday, while Andrew Tye impressed during the T20I series in Zimbabwe and is likely to lead the attack once more.
Interestingly, Australia have a chance to overhaul Pakistan and attain top position in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings for the first time when the two face off. It’s no straightforward task, however – Australia require a 3-0 series sweep to jump to the top of the tree – but a lesser series victory would see them edge past India into second position. So Pakistan only need to triumph in one outing to retain their crown.
An Australia whitewash would see them become the eighth side to attain top ranking in the T20I format, with England, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Windies the previous teams to lead the way.
The forecast is promising, with sunny skies and temperatures around 33ºC. The previous two encounters that Pakistan featured in at this ground were played a year ago against Sri Lanka and were low-scoring affairs. While T20 cricket is often labelled a ‘batsman’s game’, this series could well see an even contest between bat and ball.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c, wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Asif Ali, Hassan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Babar Azam, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Waqas Maqsood, Usman Khan Shinwari, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Mitch Marsh (vc), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Darcy Short, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Starc, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.