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AFP
November 8, 2019

3rd Pak-Aussie Twenty20 today

Sports

AFP
November 8, 2019

PERTH: Steven Smith and Australia’s dominance over Pakistan in the second T20I in Canberra can be judged by three shots from Smith’s willow.

In the eighth over, he stayed slightly leg-side to ramp the towering giant M Irfan over the ‘keeper’s head for a boundary and then cut him for another four in the same over. With the home side closing in on an easy win, he then opened the bat face just enough to slice M Amir over point and it crashed into the boundary boards. A batsman at the peak of his prowess guiding the home side to a comfortable seven-wicket win, with Australia taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber.

After the first match at the SCG was abandoned due to rain with Australia closing in on a crushing win, the home team put on another ruthless performance in Canberra. Barring Kane Richardson, rest of the bowlers were incisive before Smith provided the finishing touches.

The hosts also would be pleased that Ben McDermott, the middle order batsman, got a hit in the middle. For most part of the Australian summer so far, the hosts have romped to crushing wins, with the middle order batsmen rarely getting a hit. The one batsman who got a good hit in the middle order - Glenn Maxwell - in the first T20I versus Sri Lanka - has taken an indefinite break due to mental health issues. On the bowling front, Ashton Agar’s miserly spells have given a boost to the home team’s spin bowling stocks.

Meanwhile, Pat Cummins will be rested for the third and final T20I in Perth on Friday, and that would open up a place for the tall Billy Stanlake to come into the side. Richardson going for plenty in the slog overs in Canberra would be a cause for concern for the hosts. The pacer mostly bowled in the slot with Iftikhar Ahmed taking advantage of it. However, Australia have most of the bases covered and would look to seal the series in Perth.

Meanwhile, barring Babar Azam and to an extent Iftikhar and M Rizwan, Pakistan’s batsmen have struggled to counter the formidable Australian pace attack. Fakhar Zaman, the opener, hasn’t passed the 50-mark in T20Is since the Harare game versus Australia in July 2018. The likes of Asif Ali and Haris Sohail haven’t found their touch either. Barring the occasional good spell, Pakistan’s pace attack has also under performed. The visitors certainly need to lift their performance as they take on Australia on what could be a relatively quicker wicket in Perth. It is set to be a sunny day with temperatures expected to soar over 30 degree celsius.

For a crucial game, the tourists might resist the temptation of bringing in the uncapped left-handed batsman, Khushdil Shah. However, the visitors might ponder over giving the tearaway M Musa a chance. Musa, who plays for Islamabad United in the PSL, bowls with a good burst of pace. With Cummins being rested, Stanlake the tall paceman, is set to play the final T20I for the home side. The New South Wales pacer Sean Abbott could also get a look in.

Squads: Pakistan (Probable XI): Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, M Rizwan (wk), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, M Amir, M Irfan/M Musa

Australia (Probable XI): David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steven Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Sean Abbott/Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson.