The Australia tour of Pakistan concludes on Tuesday when the two sides meet in a one-off T20 international in Lahore which is actually a repeat of the semi-final of the last T20 World Cup but which offers the two teams the chance to continue their preparations for the next World Cup.
That comes in just six months from now so although there is nothing big at stake in this match it does carry some importance as Australia build up to their title defence and Pakistan go after some revenge for that semi-final loss.
I’m not sure how much of a bearing it will have on events but Pakistan go into this T20 international having won the ODI series over the weekend so they should be feeling good about themselves. Their performance in that final ODI was about as perfect a display as you are going to get so they look to be rounding into form nicely. The PSL is still recent enough to be relevant in terms of form to their players so the home side should be feeling really good about themselves.
In that semi-final between the two teams last year Pakistan couldn’t get the job done at the death with the ball. That was a surprise because they are renowned for top level bowlers at the end of the innings. It was a shame too because up until that point they had looked the best team in the tournament by a country mile. If their bowlers can deliver the goods here they should be very tough to beat because their batting contains the two top ranked players in the ICC rankings.
This will be a very different Australia side to the one which won the semi-final between these two in the UAE back in November. Some players have been given the white ball leg of this tour off and others are either still in quarantine or just coming out of it so the expectation on the tourists won’t be quite as high. The one thing we know about Australia teams though is that when they suffer a defeat they are usually determined to bounce back in style.
The batting unit will be much changed for Australia here but we saw in the Big Bash League at the beginning of the year that their depth is pretty high in that regard. Where we will find out about them is with the ball because they look a whole lot weaker with their three main seamers missing and on what is likely to be another flat pitch and some world class batters up against them those fringe bowlers are going to be severely tested.
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Pakistan have named a huge squad for this match but one man who could come in from having missed out on the ODIs is Shadab Khan. If he is not risked though we may well see largely the same team as the final ODI.
Australia are hoping to have Josh Inglis and Ashton Agar back in their squad for this match. They have served their isolation period and tested negative for Covid but only trained once ahead of the match. Cameron Green is in line for a T20I debut.
This is another match where the sixes line looks incredibly low. I say that because in the second ODI there were 18 sixes here while in the other two matches there were nine in the opening game where Pakistan collapsed in a heap 20 overs from time in their innings and seven in the final game when Australia were 6-3 after 5.1 overs there were still six even though Pakistan were able to cruise their run chase. What those ODIs told us is that these boundaries are perfectly accessible.
When you factor in that there is more of a natural attacking intent in T20 cricket and the ball is going to come onto the bat much better under lights the potential for a huge number of sixes is clearly there. The PSL was laced with sixes as was the T20 series between Pakistan and West Indies in this part of the world just prior to Christmas. There is more than enough batting power in these two sides and enough fragility within the bowlers for the 11.5 sixes line to be covered.
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