WILL EVANS charges down the wicket with cricket tips for the ODI series opener between Pakistan and Australia.
21:00 (AEDT), Tue 29th Mar @ Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
History: Played 104: Australia 68 V Pakistan 32 (1 Tie, 3 No Results)
Last meeting: June 12, 2019 (World Cup): Australia d Pakistan by 41 runs at The Cooper Associates County Ground
Final Thoughts: Australia emerged from a draining, bat-dominated three-Test series in Pakistan with a 1-0 victory. Now the nations square off in the first of three ODIs with Australia looking to build on the third-place ranking and Pakistan striving to climb from sixth.
Australia’s last ODI foray was a 2-1 series win in the West Indies last July with Mitchell Starc named player of the series.
Pakistan were swept 3-0 in England in July, though a sizzling series from Babar Azam – who smashed 85 from 49 in the opener and scored 158 in the third game – provided some highlights.
Mitch Marsh has been ruled out of Australia’s line-up, with Test all-rounder Cameron Green the expected replacement. Steve Smith (elbow) is out of the series, opening the door for Marnus Labsuchagne. Alex Carey will keep wicket with Josh Inglis testing positive for COVID. Uncapped Ben Dwarshuis and Nathan Ellis are in line for a debut in a bowling line-up headlined by Sean Abbott and Adam Zampa.
Captain Aaron Finch, who will open with Ben McDermott, is under a bit of pressure to perform. Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis gives the top order an imposing look.
Legspinner Shabad Khan looks set to miss the first two ODIs for Pakistan. But Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf are an outstanding bowling trio to build a team around. Meanwhile, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Abudullah Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan are coming off a big Test series with the bat.
Australia dominate ODI rivalry
Pakistan have enjoyed precious little success against Australia in the ODI arena over the past decade. Australia have won 15 of the nations’ last 16 one-days, including the last nine straight. They last met during the 2019 World Cup (soon after Australia swept Pakistan 5-0 in the UAE) with David Warner (107), Aaron Finch (82) and Pat Cummins (3/33) leading the way in a 41-run win.
But this is the first ODI series in Pakistan since 1998. Their only one-dayer in the subcontinent since saw Pakistan upset Australia in Colombo at the 2011 World Cup.
In what is forecast to be 38-degree Lahore heat, a more settled – and super-dangerous – Pakistan heads in as $1.61 favourite. They’ll be hard to beat in this historic series. It’s a tall order for Australia ($2.33) with key players injured or rested – they really need the likes of Finch to stand up to be a chance.