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November 8, 2019

Timid Pakistan need to show some teeth in Perth


November 8, 2019

KARACHI: A lot will be at stake for Pakistan when they take on rampaging Australia in the third and final Twenty20 International in Perth on Friday (today).

Despite being the world’s No. 1 team in the game’s fastest format, Pakistan have been cutting quite a sorry figure in recent times. They were thrashed by a second-string Sri Lanka side on home soil last month and have so far failed to come out with the sort of performance in Australia that made them the best T20 team in the world. In between, Sarfraz Ahmed, the man who spearheaded their rise to the T20 summit, was sacked and replaced by Babar Azam as the new captain.

They were rescued by rain in the opening T20I in Sydney and were then brushed aside by the hosts in Tuesday’s second game in Canberra where Steve Smith’s stunning knock proved too good for the Pakistanis.

In Perth, Pakistan will need to put their best foot forward to not just save the series but also save themselves from losing the World No. 1 ranking. This means that the team, which has so far been completely relying on Babar will have to play as a unit.

It’s not just Babar Azam who will be under pressure. Misbah-ul-Haq, the man who was handed the dual responsibility of head coach and chief selector in a post-World Cup shakeup, has been a target of criticism since Pakistan’s shock defeat against Sri Lanka at home.

Misbah has been persisting with players like Fakhar Zaman and Asif Ali, despite the fact they have been complete failures since quite some time. There is a possibility that Pakistan could leave both of them out of their playing eleven for today’s game. There are calls for the inclusion of teenage pacer Musa Khan in place of the aging Mohammad Irfan, who was given a surprise recall by Misbah for the series against Australia.

While the Pakistanis seem to be in disarray, Australia are currently at their best and look set to take over as the world’s No. 1 T20 team. With the likes of Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and David Warner, the hosts are, at the moment, head and shoulders above Pakistan in the batting department.

In the bowling department too, the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (rested for Perth T20I), Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar give them an upper hand against the Pakistanis.

In what is their final T20I of the summer Finch will expect his side to perform their roles to perfection once again at the beautiful Optus Stadium, which is making its debut in T20Is. The decision to rest Cummins for the final match of the series suggests a possible return to the side for Sean Abbott, though Billy Stanlake is also waiting in the wings.

The Perth Stadium pitch can be expected to be fast and bouncy, with a hot day forecast for Perth - temperatures are expected to be around 33C about the time of the first ball at 4.30pm local time. –with inputs from agencies

Today’s Fixture

Pakistan vs Australia

01:30 pm PST

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