In-form Australia aim to seal series win against Pakistan

PAK v AUS, 2nd ODI, preview

Hit For Six!

Pakistan have had an incredibly poor run against Australia in ODIs, having lost each of the last 10 head-to-head contests. Can Babar Azam's men script a turnaround in Lahore to keep the series alive?


Pakistan vs Australia, second ODI
Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
31 March, 03:00 PM LOCAL


Pakistan's 88-run defeat in the series opener was their 10th straight against Australia in ODIs. They have managed to secure just lone win in their last 17 head-to-head contests. The hosts also missed out on a chance to earn 10 valuable ICC Cricket World Cup Super League points, which could have been vital in the long run.

Pakistan's decision to bowl first on Tuesday proved to be a bad one, as their bowlers struggled to strike regularly. Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim Jr. started with the new ball, as senior bowler Shaheen Afridi was rested for the game. The combination proved ineffective, as the Australian batters extracted runs from the start, particularly Travis Head, who went on to smash a century in just 70 balls, the fastest for Australia against Pakistan.

The Australian openers showed some good form, as they brought up their century opening partnership in just the 14th over of the innings. Later Head and McDermott’s aggressive approach further added to the hosts' woes. Pakistan were able to make a slight comeback when the spinners managed to put the brakes on the scoring and Pakistan somewhat pulled things back after Head’s wicket to hold Australia to an eventual score of 313/7.

For Pakistan, opener Imam Ul Haq and skipper Babar Azam continued to impress with their bat after their sublime form in the Test series, but the middle-order couldn't quite stand tall. Fakhar Zaman showed some intent at the start of the chase but his stay was a short lived one. Saud Shakeel, the experienced Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah managed mere 34 runs between them as Imam was left with little support. Despite an early foundation, Pakistan fell short by 88 runs.

Australia, on the other hand, would be pleased with the overall outcome in the first ODI, with most of their key players missing. Head, who batted in the middle order during the Test series, showcased his versatility at the top of the order. While skipper Aaron Finch could just be one knock away from rediscovering his best, Ben McDermott, with his recent fine form, has another opportunity to firmly put a claim for a regular spot in the limited-overs setup.

Finch would expect the experienced Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis to shoulder more responsibility, while he'd be pleased with Cameron Green's late blitz, which gave a late impetus to the innings. 

Although the Australian pacers struggled to pick wickets, they were able to keep the batters in check throughout the innings. The spinners too, did their job, with Adam Zampa leading with four scalps while Mitchell Swepson bagged two. However, given Pakistan's top-order form heading into the second ODI, it will be critical for pacers to turn up and strike early to mount pressure early on.

Australia seem to have their noses well ahead on recent form. However, Pakistan's quality and their unpredictable nature sets the second of the three ODIs to be a cracking one.

Remember the last time

In the first ODI in Lahore, an all-around performance from Australia helped them defeat Pakistan comprehensively. 

Pakistan opted to bowl first, but the plan backfired as the Australian top order batters produced a fine show to post a challenging total of 313/7. Opener Travis Head lead the way with a brilliant 70-ball century, which was later bolstered by Ben Mcdermott’s 55 and Cameron Green’s unbeaten 40 runs towards the end.

After losing Fakhar Zaman early in the chase, Imam Ul Haq and Babar Azam batted steadily for the hosts, but leg-spinner Swepson dismissed Babar for 57 to end the 96-run stand. The Pakistan middle-order was unable to contribute as they kept losing wickets, with Imam scoring a fighting century despite the lack of support. Zampa bagged four wickets and Australia eventually bowled out Pakistan for 225 to seal a comfortable win.

What they said

Aaron Finch (Australia captain): “We have come here with an open mind to be flexible and select the side. The guys were struggling at the back end to hold the ball. It is easy for the set batters, but it is tough for the new ones coming in. That's something we need to look at when we chase, to cash in when set.”

Babar Azam (Pakistan captain): “We wanted to restrict them to under 300. But we didn't start well in the first ten overs, but we restricted them well in the end. When your main players aren't available, you have to back the young players. The debutants did well though. We will discuss the mistakes we made and look to not repeat it in the next game.”


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