After what turned into a quite dramatic Test series, Pakistan and Australia ditch the whites and don the coloured clothes on Tuesday when they meet in the first of three significant ODIs as both look to secure their place at the 2023 World Cup.
These three matches will form part of the World Cup Super Series, the table being used to sort out qualification for the next World Cup so both teams will be eager to come out on top and boost their points tally.
This will be the first time we have seen Pakistan in ODI cricket since they were humbled by a second and third string England side last summer. They were due to host New Zealand in an ODI series last September but that got cancelled at the last minute so Pakistan could be forgiven for needing the run in this opening game, even though they can ill afford it with qualifying points on the line. This will only be the third ODI series held in Pakistan since matches were banned from taking place there.
Pakistan have played a fair bit of T20 cricket in recent times though and I happen to think they could be a really good ODI side, especially in these conditions. Their batting looks reasonable strong in the 50 over sphere and in the main they have a lot of good bowling options. You could argue that perhaps they could utilise a better all-rounder than Faheem Ashraf but that side there isn’t too much not to like about this Pakistan side on paper.
This will be the first ODI cricket Australia have played since last summer as well which is surprising when you consider they have a rich history in this format. They were due to play New Zealand recently but isolation periods put paid to that. Like their opponents here though Australia haven’t been short of T20 cricket in recent times so it isn’t like they haven’t seen the white ball in ages. It will be interesting to see if they carry more confidence into this series having won the T20 World Cup since they last played in ODIs.
Australia have given a number of their strongest players the white ball leg of the tour off after their exertions in the Test series so we will get to see the strength of their squad depth over these three matches. It does mean that a number of players are coming in having not played the Test matches so won’t be used to the conditions so there are a couple of reasons why the tourists might need this opening match before we see them at their best.
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Pakistan are going to miss Shadab Khan in the early stages of this series because of an injury he sustained in the PSL. Two men who impressed in that tournament were Asif Afridi and Mohammad Haris and they could make their debuts here.
Australia are also expected to dish some debuts out with Cameron Green, Ben Dwarshuis and Nathan Ellis all expected to don the ODI shirt for the first time. Josh Inglis tested positive for Covid and Steve Smith has an elbow injury so neither will be involved.
Although I think both teams will be better as the series goes along I do think we’ll get a relatively high scoring match here. I say that purely because the pitches in Pakistan since international cricket returned to this part of the world have all been very good for batting and I’m not expecting anything to change in that regard here. The other reason for a potential high scoring match is because Australia have very much a second string bowling unit in play in this series.
Back in the day there would have been a huge concern over the Pakistan batting but when you consider they will be up against fringe bowlers and the fact that in Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Rizwan to name but three they have some world class players I don’t think there is that concern now. Australia are expected to bat Ben Dwarshuis at nine and we saw what he can do with the bat in the Big Bash so a lot points towards there being more than 538.5 runs here.
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