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Zimbabwe slumped to a 74-runs defeat in the opening game of the trilateral series between Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Australia. Coming into the series after an embarrassing England tour, the Australians will be itching to get it right when they meet Pakistan on 2nd July 2018 at Harare Sports Club. Pakistan continued to build onto their superb form in limited-overs Cricket with each department doing well. It will, however, be a different ball game against the Aussies who are on a record streak of defeats. Australians appeared to be picking up steam during the fag end of their England tour. With Pakistan in superb form and Australia expected to try everything to get a win, expect a hard tussle in the upcoming battle.
Pakistan's first assignment of the series ended up exactly as was expected. They got off to a horrible start with Mohammad Hafeez getting caught by Hamilton Masakadza off Kyle Jarvis. A 61-run knock by Fakhar Zaman brought them back into the game which helped them lay a solid launchpad kind of platform. Their skipper, Sarfaraz Ahmed, got a start but he never appeared to be in control and eventually departed for 16.
Pakistan were in a spot of bother at one stage with 120 for 4 on board and possibility of getting to 180 looking remote. Shoaib Malik continued his excellent batting form and together with Asif Ali, he propelled the total to 182. Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik scored 41 and 37 respectively. Chasing a total on a pitch which was slowing down wasn't going to be easy for Zimbabweans and Pakistani bowlers ensured the same.
Barring Hussain Talat and Faheem Ashraf, no bowler went wicketless with Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Khan, and Mohammad Hafeez picking up two wickets each. Although Hasan Ali managed to pick up a couple of wickets, he was a tad too expensive.
Mohammad Amir was rested for the opening game and with Pakistan expected to play at least 23 limited overs matches before the '19 World Cup, he is expected to play in selective games only. Pakistan did well against Scotland and Zimbabwe but it will be Pakistan's first limited-overs assignment against a regular test playing team in quite some time; it will be interesting to see how they perform in the upcoming game.
Mohammad Hafeez, F Zaman, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan.
Australia are yet to win a game since the ball Tampering Saga against the Proteas earlier this year. Following the ban of David Warner and Steven Smith, they were defeat in the remaining matches and were humiliated by England in what was a 6-0 trouncing on the tour.
Australia's batting looked unsettled in the recently concluded series. They scored 300 in two matches out of five but failed to post 250 on three occasions. The condition of their bowling was highlighted by the fact that not even once they were able to bowl England out in the series. They, in fact, conceded the highest ever total in One Day Internationals - 481 in the third game of the series.
Despite the hammering they received, they have a few positives to take into this series. Ashton Agar was reasonably good with the ball and his batting performances were better than most batsmen in the side. Aaron Finch scored well on all the occasion he opened with his 41-ball 87 being the highlight of the series for Australia. Although he played in only one T20, Mitchel Swepson was impressive and is likely to retain his place.
On top of the positives, Australia are in a good run of form in the shortest form of the game. They've won four of their last five matches and the one they lost was decided in the last over. All in all, the Australians are in a rebuilding phase and still have the services of some of the best in the business. Zimbabwe's wickets will suit Australian bowlers more than what it was like in England. Facing Pakistan's spinners will be a big challenge and if they can overcome that, Australia will be a tough team to get past.
Aaron Finch, D'Arcy Short, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, TM Head, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, AJ Tye, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake.
Batting was visibly difficult as the game progressed in the first match. For the same reason, expect the team winning the toss to bat first.
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It's expected to be a warm and sunny day in Harare on Tuesday and pitch isn't expected to behave any different to what it was like in the first ODI. On a pitch which is expected to be batting paradise, scoring with the new ball will be key as it will get relatively difficult to hit slower bowlers when the ball gets old. A total of 180 will be a par score and anything over it will be tough to chase.
Pakistan are the top-ranked team in the format and it is not going for Australia, especially after the English lessons. Australia lost a majority of wickets to spinners and it will be something they'll have to deal with again against Pakistan. However, Andrew Tye's changeups will be more than useful on Harare's surface which appeared to have some assistance for bowlers in the first T20I. With Mohammad Amir likely to be rested in second T20I as well, Pakistan's new ball bowling looks slightly bleak. Although Pakistan have done well in recent times, there were a few visible vulnerabilities in their recent wins. We expect Australia to exploit those and register a much-needed win in the second match of the series.