AUS v PAK, 2nd T20I: Visitors have to utilize Sydney reprieve to their advantage in Canberra
Game two of the series and it will also try two to get the series underway after inclement weather ensured that the match was abandoned early during Australia’s chase. In a way, one could say that the weather gods opened up as a blessing in disguise for Pakistan because skipper Aaron Finch and his team were looking ominous.
With the series reduced to a two-match affair, Pakistan would hope to right the wrongs from that night in Sydney. For starters, there are quite a few problems for Pakistan and they would need to address it quickly. The side’s batting came under the scanner as usual and thus, it would be interesting to see whether there is any change in approach.
None of the Pakistani batsmen looked particularly comfortable against Australia’s quick bowlers while also lacking the tempo for a T20 match. Even Babar Azam who grew into his 59-run knock slowly but surely edged a few threw the empty slip cordon. On the other hand, Mohammad Rizwan was guilty of failing to rotate the strike and this meant that the pressure was always on Babar Azam to anchor and also provide some impetus for the inning. Around Babar, the other Pakistani batsmen got out either while being rushed by Australia’s pace or due to lack of power.
After posting 107-5 in the possible 15 overs, Australia and Aaron Finch almost ran away with the game with the skipper smashing Irfan for 31 runs in two overs. However, to their dismay, rain came to halt play once again and this time it was an extended break that led to the match officials calling off the match. In the end, Pakistan went away with a lucky escape.
The visitors would need to quickly get rid off their cobwebs as Australia look in red-hot form at this moment. The bowling attack continued from where they left against Sri Lanka with the pacers troubling the Pakistani batsmen with their pace and bounce while Aaron Finch showed a glimpse of what the Australian batting line-up could do to the opposition.
Venue: Manuka Oval, Canberra
Date & Time: 5th November, 7.10 P.M Local Time, 1.40 P.M IST
How will Pakistan stop Aaron Finch amidst the kind of form he showed during the first T20I? The fact that rain was imminent did force Aaron Finch to take the aggressive route but it wouldn’t be surprising if he employs the same approach in Canberra. Pakistan would either look at Mohammad Amir to get the ball moving into Finch in order to trap him in front or use one of the spinners to disturb the original plans. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan have both dismissed Finch on two occasions and this will certainly encourage Babar Azam to use the ploy against the Aussie skipper.
Considering the fact that the first match wasn’t completed, the Pakistani team management might perhaps think that it will be too early to make changes to the playing XI. So, the likes of Mohammad Irfan who had a bad outing and Fakhar Zaman who has struggled for a while would be expected to keep their spots.
Pakistan– Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Haris Sohail, M Rizwan (WK), Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, M Amir, M Irfan
Australia, on the other hand, could perhaps make a slight change to their bowling attack. Given that Pat Cummins played all the T20Is against Sri Lanka and the Sydney encounter against Pakistan, Australia might look to give him a break by bringing in Billy Stanlake.
Australia– Aaron Finch (C), David Warner, Steve Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (WK), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake
Pitch and Weather Conditions
This fixture will be the first ever T20I at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. Although the venue is new to International T20 cricket, it is common knowledge that there is plenty of runs to be scored at the Manuka Oval. Be it ODIs or Big Bash League cricket, teams have generally scored a lot of runs due to the superb carry and pace from the wicket. However, the boundary dimensions will once again test the Pakistani batsmen.
With respect to the weather, the day is expected to be mostly cloudy with 20% chance of rain.
There is no two ways about it, Australia go into this match as clear favourites. Pakistan need to quickly get themselves up if they want to avoid some one-sided encounters against a home side that is looking to prove itself as a world-beater in the shortest format of the game. Apart from the usual suspects, Babar Azam and Mohammad Amir, the likes of Asif Ali, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz would need to provide ample support to the team in order to upset the odds.