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March 21, 2019

ONE-DAY SERIES: Depleted Pakistan to face Australia


March 21, 2019

SHARJAH: Australia have been forced to dig deep into their video database to prepare for their “revenge” over a depleted Pakistan squad, which will feature several untried prospects in the five-match ODI series starting on Friday.

Australia and India, already well-known to each other due to bonds developed in the Indian Premier League, became overwhelmingly familiar this summer after they contested five separate series across all formats in less than four months.

On the other hand, Pakistan present a more unpredictable foe for Aaron Finch’s men despite a handful of recent meetings, in what shapes as the visitors’ final competitive dress-rehearsal ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Captained by 37-year-old journeyman Shoaib Malik, Australia’s ‘hosts’ in the United Arab Emirates have named a 16-man squad missing six first-choice players, including regular skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, and featuring four uncapped players.

“There’s a lot of new faces, definitely,” said batsman Shaun Marsh. “What I do know is they’re a very good side, a very good One-Day side in their home conditions. We know we’re going to have to bring our A game like we did against India to beat them.”

It’s hard to keep any secrets in international cricket these days and Australia have already studied vision of uncapped teenage paceman Mohammad Hasnain, who Shane Watson this week said was the quickest 18-year-old he’d ever seen after the pair helped Quetta Gladiators take out the Pakistan Super League title.

“They’ve rested a few players but going through their team today in our team meeting, they’ve got some really strong guys,” said leg-spinner Adam Zampa. “Batting and bowling — they’re really good.

“We’ve come off three wins in a row with our backs to the wall, so our confidence is high. But we’ve spoken about not taking Pakistan lightly. They’re one of the best teams in the world in terms of white-ball cricket at the moment.”

Pakistan defeated Australia in the final of a T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe last year and followed that up with victories in Test and T20I campaigns against them in the UAE, the latter a 3-0 whitewash in October.

Pakistan’s 50-over form has been less reliable in recent years; since their shock Champions Trophy triumph in 2017, they’ve won just one of four bilateral ODI series against major nations.

Australia have also won nine of their past 10 ODIs against Pakistan, but the latter’s superiority in the shorter white-ball format is fresh in Zampa’s mind.

“We’ve spoken about the 3-0 defeat to them earlier in the season ... they towelled us up,” he said.

“So we’ve got to learn from that experience ... (and get) a bit of revenge hopefully.”

Zampa is also expecting a far different challenge in this series compared to the one posed by India, forecasting Pakistan will adopt a more sporadically aggressive approach to his bowling.

“The Indians are really good at milking (runs), they like to go at five and six an over through the middle without taking too many risks, whereas the Pakistani guys go quite hard,” Zampa said.

“It might not be the whole time, but they’ll choose a period during the game when they’ll take me on. So that’s something I’m up for. I’ll just do my preparation, watch a lot of footage and go from there.”

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