Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, on Tuesday (October 23), announced the playing eleven for the first T20I against Australia.

Pakistan will miss the services of their veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik for the series-opener against Australia. Malik is currently with his family as he is expecting the birth of his first child. The former Pakistan skipper is yet to join the squad.

Missing Malik will be a big blow for the Men in Green. The right-handed batsman has the highest batting average in the last two years amongst Pakistan batsmen.  He has accumulated 561 runs at an average of over 62 in 20 matches.

“Malik is not available for selection for the first T20I,” confirmed Sarfraz. “The situation he is in at the moment, it becomes very difficult for an individual to move back and forth from the hospital. He will join us tomorrow.”

Pakistan, meanwhile, will be looking to make the most of the momentum after beating Australia in the second Test.  Both the teams will have a chance to bolster their ranking. While Pakistan, the number one T20I side, need to win only one contest to stay at the top, Australia too have a chance of moving to the top.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in nets ahead of first T20I against Australia (Credits: PCB)

The team from Down Under needs to whitewash the hosts to replace them from the top. On the other hand, a series win will see Australia toppling India to take the second position.

Earlier this year, Australia and Pakistan met three times in the tri-series in Zimbabwe. Pakistan emerged victorious twice, including their triumph in the final.

Meanwhile, Sarfraz further said that the teams will have no problem in switching to T20 cricket after the Test series.

“Cricket has gotten so professional a change of mindset is the call of the hour,”  Sarfraz said. “We have gotten three to four days of gap in which we have tried to get into T20 mode. We have six T20Is (victories) on trot. We have practised and are expecting that team will get into the T20I momentum.”

The Pakistan skipper also had a word of praise for Australia.

“Australia are the best T20 team in the world at the moment,” he said. “Some of their players from that team are not here. But, Chris Lynn and Mitch Marsh have come back into the team. I saw McDermott play very well in the Big Bash League. I see a good contest against them.

“Lynn is a big hitter. Whenever he bats, he bats long which makes him a difficult proposition for the opponents. We will try to get him out early.”

Australia, meanwhile, will have gained some confidence after the thumping win over UAE in the only T20 on Monday. With the likes Chris Lynn, D’Arcy Short, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell on their side, Australia will be keen to make amends for the poor show in the final Test.

Pakistan playing XI:

Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c&wk), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi