Pakistan and Australia kick off their series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) on Sunday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in a tie which is likely to pit some of the leading exponents of the shorter game together.
With the series proper set to include three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two Tests, both sides will seeSunday’s game under lights as a chance to strike first blood, as well as claim vital team and individual rankings spoils.
A win for third-ranked Pakistan, which defeated Australia in the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in April,will see it close the gap on India to two points on the Reliance ICC T20I Team Rankings, while Australia will drop two ratings points to join New Zealand and West Indies on 110 ratings points but will be ranked above the two sides when ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
A victory for Australia will see it retain fifth place but push ahead of New Zealand and the West Indies by four rankings points. In that scenario, South Africa would leap-frog Pakistan, which would drop to fourth position.
Australia’s opener Aaron Finch, meanwhile, will be looking to reclaim top spot in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for T20I Batsmen after India’s Virat Kohli hit top spot in England. Finch trails Kohli by just five ratings points.
Ahmed Shehzad is Pakistan’s top-ranked batsman in eighth place and he joins two of his fellow countrymen in the top 20 alongside Umar Akmal (16th) and Mohammad Hafeez (20th).
Australia’s David Warner has Ahmed in his sights as he lies just one place and three rankings points behind him in ninth position.
In the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for T20I Bowlers, Australia’s left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc in sixth place is the top-ranked bowler on show.
Pakistan will look to joint eighth-placed duo Shahid Afridi and Hafeez to quell the opposition’s attacking threats. The list is headed by the West Indies’ Samuel Badree, who leads team-mate Sunil Narine by 23 ratings points.
In the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for T20I All-rounders, the stage is set for Pakistan’s duo Hafeez (first) and Shahid (fifth) to continue their fine recent run of form in the shorter format of the game with third-placed all-rounder Shane Watson sidelined through injury.
5 October - Pakistan v Australia, Dubai International Stadium
(Play starts at 8:00 pm local time)