By Brett Lee
The Australian team is in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) right now playing Pakistan. And it is a good sign for us to start the One-Day International (ODI) series on a winning note. Australia beat Pakistan by four wickets in the first ODI - a comprehensive victory. In terms of the Castrol Index, Australia finished 10 points ahead of Pakistan with 49 points. It is always important to get off to a good start in the first game of any series.
The biggest positive for Australia from the first ODI was Mitchell Starc. He bagged a fifer and helped bundle out Pakistan for 198, which is a great effort. He was also the Top Performer for Australia with 68 points on the Castrol Index. He bagged four wickets in the game against Afghanistan as well, so it is great that he has struck form. He is a very talented young guy and it is good to see him do well. Getting a five-wicket haul against a tough opposition like Pakistan in trying conditions in the UAE is very impressive. He was the Player of the Match in both the ODIs. And that says a lot about him. The Australian new ball pair of James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc is doing well, and both bowlers have been very successful in the two games so far. They form a good combination and surely have a great future ahead of them. As far as the bowling is concerned, Australian cricket seems in good health at the moment.
Another positive for Australia was the way Michael Clarke batted. It was a small target, but on a difficult pitch it took almost 49 overs to get there and he led from the front with a crucial knock of 66 runs. He raked in 50 points on the Castrol Index. Clarke is a captain who leads from the front. It is important for a skipper to do well when the team is in crunch situations and he does just that. George Bailey was very impressive as well with his half-century taking the team home.
Playing in the UAE is very tough; the climate and conditions are harsh and it is not easy to adjust to the hot weather there. The last time I played there, the temperature was over 37 degrees. It is the end of winter in Australia and the team is coming from much cooler conditions. So it is important for Australia to adapt to the weather in the UAE and manages to keep fit and hydrated. It is going to be similar conditions in Sri Lanka as well where the team will go next month to play in the ICC World Twenty20. Although it is going to be more humid in Sri Lanka, this is good preparation for the team.
Here’s hoping that Australia can win the series against Pakistan and carry forward that momentum to Sri Lanka as well.
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(Brett Lee is one of the fastest bowlers in cricket history. He took 310 wickets in Tests and 380 in ODIs. The Australia legend, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders, has a deep love for India and Indians. The above article was written by Lee for Castrol, for whom he is the Brand Ambassador. For more, visit castrolcricket.com. Castrol Cricket is the official performance partner of the International Cricket Council and is a sponsor of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20)