Following three thunderous performances against the Islanders that symbolized the phrase ‘total annihilation’, the rampaging Aussies look set to take on Pakistan and dethrone them from their reign on the global T20I rankings. They will be crossing swords with the Greenshirts at the SCG in less than 48 hours after completing a thumping whitewash at the G.
Although Sri Lanka were disposed of without much fuss, Australia would prefer a tougher opponent and Pakistan present the perfect match. Lidded with exuberance, unpredictability, and lots of young blood, Pakistan are ought to make a duel out of it when the two T20I giants collide.
The home side is looking overwhelmingly balanced and David Warner’s prolific run in the series is a massive plus going forward into the Australian summer. The southpaw amassed 217 runs in the three-match series without being dismissed even once. It was the error-free, elegant ease with which he compiled his runs that would have sent a few jitters down the Pakistani bowling battery.
The returning Steve Smith and a fully-fit Mitchell Starc have made their presences felt with crucial contributions with the willow and the ball. With Ashton Agar incorporated into the lower-middle order and Adam Zampa featuring as a specialist T20I bowler, Australia have managed to field a side with five frontline bowlers. Agar has shown his potential with the bat innumerable times in the BBL and it was only a matter of time before he was unleashed against an international opposition.
In the absence of Glenn Maxwell, the likes of Ben McDermott and Ashton Turner have a golden opportunity to cement their spots in the playing XI and make a case for themselves for next year’s World T20 at home. Turner shoulders a repute of a power-hitter who can clear boundaries with ease, and he showed glimpses of this in the last T20I against Sri Lanka.
How much of a threat do Pakistan really pose, though? The scars of last month’s horrendous home-series whitewash at the hands of a relatively weaker Sri Lankan team are afresh. Applying the mathematical transitive theory on the upcoming series would direct to a result none other than Australia clinically sweeping away the visitors. But when it comes to Pakistan Cricket, the theories go obsolete and the logics are treated as rather misleading.
Such was the measure of the drubbing that it led to large-scale shifts in the personnel and a Pakistan team that emerged out of the commotion was a new-look T20I side with a fresh skipper. Babar Azam will be shouldering the captaincy responsibilities and performers in the domestic T20 circuit have been awarded with call-ups.
Muhammad Musa Khan is one of the two uncapped teenagers named in Pakistan’s T20I squad. The 19-year old is an exhilarating addition to this Pakistani team, gifted with raw pace and sublime disguising techniques. Pakistan have also called up Usman Qadir, the son of the legendary Pakistani leg-spinner, Abdul Qadir. Leggie himself, Usman has been neglected for long and almost gave up on Pakistan to seek a more secure future in Australia. This selection may well prove to be a stepping stone in his cricketing career.
The weather is expected to play a key role in this match with rain and thunderstorms forecasted around mid-day. The last time Pakistan featured in a T20I in the DownUnder was way back in 2009 when Australia edged home in a low-scoring thriller. This series promises to be a cracking with a lot at stake and a lot more to look forward to.
Australia’s Probable XI:
Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins/Billy Stanlake/Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson
Pakistan’s Probable XI:
Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan