About the Match
Australia leads the ODI series 2-1 against Pakistan, but the visitors have not been disgraced in this format of the game. They managed to run Australia close all three times so far, can they equalize the series in Sydney?
Not all is right with this Australian ODI team at the moment. Their openers have failed to perform so far in the series and the batting as a whole has been very inconsistent. Injuries to their first choice players have meant that a pretty inexperienced middle order is playing for Australia at the moment. Their bowling is also suffering from a combination of injuries, poor form and mandated rest.
Despite all of this, though, Australia is on the verge of another series victory at Sydney.
The fourth ODI is expected to be a run fest. The last two times Australia played there, they score 324 against New Zealand and 330 against India, batting first on both occasions. While they won the match against New Zealand pretty comfortably, India actually managed to chase down 330 and win by 6 wickets.
The one common theme across scorecards from Australia’s recent past has been one of either David Warner or Steve Smith scoring big runs whenever they have reached a big total. Steve Smith is in excellent form as he scored a brilliant hundred in the third game to now average 84 in the series.
He scored 164 in his last match at the ground and would love to continue in the same vein of form.
David Warner got a 35 in the last match and has had his problems against the Pakistani left-arm quicks. He could be in line for a big one after spending some useful time in the middle.
Australia, though, has a soft underbelly. A couple of quick wickets for Pakistan bring a raw Travis Head, a mercurial Glen Maxwell and a very lucky Peter Handscomb to the middle. Mathew Wade has been striking the ball well but the opportunity for Pakistan to restrict Australia is clear.
The thing that punters need to remember is that Australia has beaten Pakistan so many times in the last decade that their players believe they can win from any position. The bowling might get a shakeup with the return of Mitchell Starc as Australia continue to rotate their bowlers.
With 6 wickets from three matches so far, James Faulkner is the highest wicket taker and we think his death bowling will be very crucial in this match. Mitchell Starc is a form bowler and we don’t think he likes being rotated every other match. It will be interesting to see if he does well in this game.
Adam Zampa is in the squad but has not played in this series. Will Australia continue to rely on part-time spinners or give Zampa a go here?
Back Australia to score above 300 if they bat first.
Pakistan has performed well beyond expectation in the matches so far, however, their ODI cricket almost seems stuck in the past. Their batting does not have the depth or power to regularly score 330+ scores as is required nowadays.
Their total of 263 in 50 overs gave them something to bowl at in the last match but Australia would not have been worried in the least while chasing that down. Pakistan must consider a complete overhaul of their team in the manner that England did after the 2015 World Cup, however that is a discussion for another time.
The Pakistani fielding is also atrocious and they keep on dropping vital catches. The third ODI could have been a close affair after both the openers had been dismissed cheaply but the Pakistani’s gave two let-offs to debutant Peter Handscomb, who then made 82 runs.
There have been a few positives, though. Babar Azam has looked a class player in this format of the game and Mohammad Hafeez’s comeback yielded some crucial runs as well. Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal have been dangerous in the lower middle order while Junaid Khan has been menacing with the ball.
Junaid is our pick to be the highest wicket taker against Australia once more
. The same team from the last match is expected to take the ground for Pakistan.
Sharjeel Khan made an aggressive 50 in the last match and could find the flat Sydney wicket to his liking as well. His technique makes us wary of backing him though as there is no telling what he might do. Backing him to score less than 50 would always remain profitable in our opinion.
The Sydney pitch traditionally favors the spinners somewhat, although we don’t think there will much help for any bowler in this match. Imad Wasim has been metronomic with his bowling and his series economy of 4.67 has helped tie down the Australian batsmen. His contribution with the ball will be very important for Pakistan once again.
The slow nature of the Sydney pitch should favor Pakistan and this is the venue that would feel most at home in Australia.
Even though Pakistan won the second ODI while chasing, we think that the best chance that they have of winning this match will be by batting first, putting on a competitive total and then putting the Australian batsmen under pressure.
If they bowl first and get hammered to all parts of the ground, their batsmen will be unable to keep them in the game.
While Pakistan has beaten Australia four times at the SCG, their last five meetings with the hosts have all ended in losses.
Australia look set to be heading towards a 3-1 series victory in this match.