Pakistan vs Australia, 1st ODI, Preview: High on confidence visitors look to continue their juggernaut
Shoaib Malik's captaincy will be once again tested.
Updated - Mar 21, 2019 4:18 pm
Australia were battered by 0-1 and 0-3 in the two-match Test and three-match T20I series last time they faced Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2018. But this time, things are a lot different. The visitors are coming off a historic series win over India after they were trailing by 0-2 after the first couple of matches. Pakistan, meanwhile, have decided to rest their main players after a hectic Pakistan Super League (PSL) which concluded recently.
They are being led by the veteran Shoaib Malik in this series and the fringe players have a great chance to stake their claim for the World cup. This is a penultimate One-Day assignment for them before the mega event and have significant time to experiment. Having said that, the Men in Green will have to be cautious as their opponents are no more a weak side in the format.
Aaron Finch will be elated with the way the team is shaping up just in time for the World Cup. He will also be hoping to return to form in full flow. Though illness has disturbed their preparations ahead of the series with Glenn Maxwell unlikely to feature in the series opener. Nathan Coulter-Nile has joined the squad which will definitely bolster the bowling attack of the touring party.
Shan Masood will bat at the top of the order with Imam-ul-Haq and Haris Sohail at three. Umar Akmal makes his comeback and will be key at the number four position. He was in great form in the PSL and will be hoping to continue the same way. Shoaib Malik has to be the flag bearer for this team and should be able to switch the gears according to the situation.
Also, the skipper and Sohail should fulfill the fifth bowler duties. Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir are the other bowlers with either of Usman Khan or Mohammad Abbas making the cut in the final XI.
Probable XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari/Mohammad Abbas.
Usman Khawaja and Finch will open the innings while Peter Handscomb, after his good show recently, will bat at three. If Glenn Maxwell is not fit, then Shaun Marsh will come in even as Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Turner will look to finish well at five and six. Both of them can bowl well and might have to do more if Maxwell misses out. Alex Carey is also having a good run at seven.
Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins are the hostile fast bowlers and Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa look certain to play together on slow tracks.
Probable XI: Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch (c), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell/Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa.
Focus will be on
Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)
Shoaib Malik couldn’t win a game under his captaincy in the recent South Africa series after Sarfaraz Ahmed returned back home. He will also need to bat well and come up the order to guide the innings through if the wicket falls early. Malik also needs to aim at batting until the end having failed to finish the job a few times in the recent past.
Usman Khawaja (Australia)
Usman Khawaja helped Australia earn a heroic draw in the first of the two-match Test series with marathon innings on the final day. Since then, he has come a long way in the limited-overs format as well and enters this series as the most valuable player of the team at the top of the order. He was awarded the Man of the Series against India recently and the team will be expecting for him to continue in the same vein. Khawaja’s ability to play spin exceptionally well makes him crucial for the visitors.
Head to Head
Overall – 98 | Pakistan won – 32 | Australia won – 62 | Tie/NR – 4
34 – Usman Khawaja needs only 34 runs in his next innings to become the joint fastest Australian to complete 1000 ODI runs. Greg Chappell achieved the feat in 26 innings.
TV – Sony Six and Sony Six HD
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
Match Timings – 16:30 IST; 15:00 local