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The first T20 international played between Pakistan and Australia turned out to be a dull, boring, one-sided affair in which the Aussies failed to turn up. The surface that the two sides were playing on was not conducive to attractive stroke play and eventually ended up favoring Pakistan a bit too much.
Both sides struggled to make runs on this sluggish surface but Pakistan adapted better. There will be questions that need to be answered from both sides before the next game as the venue shifts to Dubai. We are hoping for a better surface for this match where the ball actually comes on to the bat but the matches played in Dubai during the Asia Cup were also played on surfaces that were quite slow.
Can Australia find a way to combat the conditions and some very skilled opponents?
Pakistan continues to be the most unlikely of nations to be at the top of the T20 rankings. They don’t have the power hitters that some of the other sides boast, they don’t have the big name all-rounders, and their fielding is pretty sketchy as well.
Yet, Pakistan continues to find a way to perform above the level of expectations.
In the first match, Pakistan actually lost the toss and was put into bat by Australia. We think that ended up playing into their hands. Babar Azam shepherded the team with a brilliant 68 not out that was played absolutely according to the situation.
Babar was able to judge the nature of the pitch and made sure that he batted till the end to get Pakistan to a par total. The role of the top-order becomes very important on slow surfaces like the ones we have seen in the UAE.
Pakistan’s top-3 all scored some runs but there was nothing to follow. The team slipped from 130 for 3 to 133-8 and it was only some lusty blows in the end from Hasan Ali that helped the team reach a score of above 150.
This collapse in the middle indicates that starting on this surface was tough as was trying to accelerate.
Once Pakistan had scored more than 150, their chances of winning went up manifold. They have only ever lost a handful of times after scoring above 150 in their T20 history which is a testament to their bowling strength.
Here too, Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf blew away the Australian top-order to effectively settle the match in the powerplay itself.
Both Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf bowled wicket to wicket and waited for the Aussies to try and take the game to them. As a result, they had Australia at 22 for 6 before the visitors staged some sort of a recovery.
Pakistan would be aware of the fact that its own batting was pretty ordinary. They struggled to get the measure of Billy Stanlake’s extra pace and Andrew Tye’s variations. Pakistan will know that it will need to bat better if the surface is a bit quicker in Dubai otherwise this Australian batting could bounce back hard.
With an excellent all-round performance from all of its bowlers, we don’t see any potential changes to the Pakistan side for the next match.
F Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Asif Ali, SI Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi.
Aaron Finch minced no words when he spoke about Australia’s performance in the last match. He likened the powerplay to a car crash in slow motion and it is hard to argue with that. Australia has packed its T20 side with batsmen that love to go hard at every single opportunity they get.
Unfortunately, the surface they encountered in the first match required spending some time at the crease before bringing out the big shots. Aaron Finch, Darcy Short, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, and Alex Carey were all out before the completion of the sixth over of the game.
That is just incredible to read and we don’t think it is going to happen again in the upcoming matches.
The Australian batsmen are just too good to make the same mistake again. Do they have the necessary temperament to make adjustments to their game before the next match, though? Babar Azam showed the perfect template for building an inning on these surfaces. He kept rotating the strike and finding the boundary in between.
Someone like Chris Lynn whose game really requires some bounce from the surface could struggle massively in this series. We think the batsmen most likely to succeed in these conditions are Darcy Short and Alex Carey. Even Aaron Finch tends to go too hard from the first ball and that can result in a high failure rate.
Australia’s batting let them down in the test matches and the same is happening in the T20 series as well.
Perhaps the one big positive that Australia can take from the last match is its bowling performance. Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye, and Adam Zampa all bowled very well. Nathan Coulter-Nile was a bit disappointing going at an economy rate of 10.50 in a low scoring match and would want to work on his lengths for the next match.
It was surprising to see Ashton Agar bowl only two overs on a sluggish surface where his kind of bowling could have been a handful. Maybe Finch could have been a bit more alert in ringing the changes rather than following set plans that eventually played into Pakistan’s hands.
Mitchell Marsh, Nathan Lyon, and Mitchell Starc are all in the squad for this series as well. Starc, who is a certain starter if fit, could continue to sit out until he is fully recovered but Marsh and Lyon must be seriously considered.
Marsh adds another top-order batting option to the side while Lyon could replace Agar as a genuine spinner.
Australia has brought the best of its Big Bash performers and we have no doubt they will be difficult to beat in good batting conditions. The UAE, though, is offering u a set of challenges which may be a bit too difficult for this Aussie side to surmount.
Aaron Finch, D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Mitchell Marsh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, AJ Tye, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake.
The team winning the toss is likely to want to bat first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Dubai has also been hot to an incredible number of matches in the last few months and so there is no doubt that the surface would be tired. We expect another dead, low, and slow surface for the match. Perhaps, the little bit of time for the groundsman to prepare the surface would result in a better batting strip than the first match but that is a low bar to overcome.
The weather is going to be hot and dry, as expected. A score of around 150-160 seems like a competitive total on these pitches.
Australia has an excellent T20 side suited to good batting conditions. In UAE, though, the Pakistani players seem to be much better equipped to handle the kind of surfaces being offered up. The heavy loss in the first match would have shaken Australia’s confidence and it will take something special for them to make a comeback.
Back Pakistan to win.
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