After succumbing to an eight-wicket loss in the first of five one-day internationals against Australia, Pakistan will be keen to make a swift comeback in Sharjah on Sunday, 24 March.
Pakistan v Australia
Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium
Sunday, 24 March, 3:00pm local time, 11:00am GMT
Pakistan looked comfortable for most of their innings after opting to bat in the opening ODI, but a flurry of wickets in the last 15 overs saw them post a below par 280/5. The run-rate too remained below 6 through the 50 overs.
Haris Sohail's century was the bright spot for the hosts in an otherwise timid batting display. They will want the rest of the line-up to make a strong claim for their spots, especially with the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 just a couple of months away. Shan Masood and Umar Akmal, both of whom notched up 40-plus scores but could not kick on, will want to convert their starts in the second ODI.
The bowling unit, spearheaded by the experienced Mohammad Amir, was also rendered ineffective by Australia's counterpunch. Mohammad Abbas, in particular, will want to grab the opportunity with both hands. Pakistan might consider bringing in Junaid Khan for the second game.
Australia, on the other side, are brimming with confidence. After coming back from 2-0 down to win the ODI series 3-2 against India, they have made an instant statement against Pakistan as well. The team took time to find their right combination after Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended, but now seem to have turned into a well-oiled machine.
Players like Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have stepped up significantly over recent weeks and have been fairly consistent in the middle order. The bowling line-up looks settled as well, with the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa bringing their A game.
It will be interesting to see what combination Australia go for in the second ODI, considering the likes of Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins were on the bench for the series opener.
Haris Sohail (Pakistan): While Pakistan only reached 280/5 in the first ODI, Sohail played a splendid innings. He made a 114-ball 101 – his maiden century in ODI cricket – to take them to a respectable total. He will have extra motivation to keep up his good form, so as to make his case for the World Cup squad.
Aaron Finch (Australia): The Australian skipper, who struggled with bad form at the turn of the year, has found his mojo. After a decent finish against India came a match-winning century at the top of the order. Australia will be glad their skipper is back to his best in their last series before the Wolrd Cup.
The strip in Sharjah offered almost nothing for the bowlers in the first ODI, and it is likely to remain just as flat on Sunday. The forecast is for cloudy conditions throughout the day, but with no threat of rain.
Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik (c), Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Abid Ali, Saad Ali, Mohammad Hasnain
Australia: Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch (c), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa, Ashton Turner, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff
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