The action between Australia and Pakistan shifts to the capital city of the country. The rains at Sydney in the first T20 international thwarted Australia’s chances of taking a lead in the three-match series. Mainly, the 20-minute innings break ensured that Pakistan land in Canberra with the scoreline locked at 0-0.
Australia didn’t let Pakistan even a sniff and kept their foot on the opposition’s throats throughout the first match. The hosts enjoyed a near-perfect game, if not for the interruption of the rain. They have got the reassurance of the top two along with the consolidator in Steve Smith at number three. Their fast bowlers and spinners have also done a perfect job, so far. The only department that needs testing is their middle-order who hardly have had the opportunity to bide their time on the pitch.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have enough issues to focus on. The tourists’ over-reliance on their new skipper Babar Azam looked glaring on Sunday. Fakhar Zaman needs a big score after getting dismissed for a golden duck and enduring an awful series against Sri Lanka. Mohammad Rizwan, who assisted his skipper in building a useful partnership, could again be looked upon as a glue in the middle-order. The visitors may also consider leaving out Mohammad Irfan for another fast bowler.
In the spotlight:-
The Australian top-order batsmen has undoubtedly brought their opponents to their knees in the home summer thus far. So much so that hardly their rest of the batsmen have faced tough questions. Their middle-order consisting of Ben Mcdermott, Ashton Turner, and Alex Carey have immense potential. The question is, can it come down to them to prove their worth ahead of the overseas assignments and World Cup?
As a replacement for Pakistan’s former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan played responsibly in the middle to rebuild the innings. Pakistan need him to continue his form and bat throughout, especially neutralizing the Australian spin-duo in the middle overs. Babar Azam may have to again play the anchor role in the light of an out of form Fakhar Zaman.
No changes are expected in this settled Australian outfit. They will likely go with the same playing eleven, having found success in almost all the departments.
Probable XI: Aaron Finch (C), David Warner, Steve Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (WK), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins/Billy Stanlake/Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson
The towering quick Mohammad Irfan could pave the way for Mohammad Hasnain or Muhammad Musa Khan, both of whom can ramp up the pace on the Aussie openers. The batting order is likely not to see no change.
Probable XI: Babar Azam (C), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain/Muhammad Musa Khan
Head to Head:
Played: 21, Australia won – 7, Pakistan won – 12, Tied – 1, No Result – 1
At Manuka Oval, Canberra – No matches played between Australia and Pakistan
Pitch and conditions:-
The weather forecast is clear in Canberra. The practice game held between Prime Minister’s XI and Sri Lanka at this venue turned out as a low-scoring affair. However, given it’s first-ever T20 international, it is hard to assume how the pitch would play.
The Manuka Oval will host its first T20 international on Tuesday.
i) Australian captain Aaron Finch (925 runs) is 75 runs away to complete his 1,000 T20I runs as a captain. He will be the first Australian captain and fifth overall captain to score 1,000 T20I runs.
ii) Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (14 wickets) needs to pick up three more T20I wickets at home to become the most T20I wicket-taker at home as an Australian bowler. While Zampa has taken the equal wicket of the pacer Andrew Tye (14 T20I wickets at home), only the left-arm pacer James Faulkner is ahead of them in this list.
iii) Left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc has taken 37 T20I wickets. At present, Starc is the joint third most T20I wicket-taker for Australia as the right-arm pacer Andrew Tye also scalped 37 T20I wickets. Starc is two wickets away to become the second most T20I wicket-taker for Australia. By taking two T20I wickets, Starc will surpass the present second most T20I wicket-taker for Australia – Mitchell Johnson (38 T20I wickets). However, Shane Watson is on the top of this list with 48 T20I wickets.
i) Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan (46 wickets) is four wickets away to complete his 50 T20I wickets. He will be the seventh Pakistan bowler and fourth Pakistan spinner to take 50 T20I wickets.
Given how the first T20 international panned out, Australia again look to be firm favourites. But, we could be in for a surprise, given Pakistan’s unpredictable nature.