Australia and Pakistan will meet at Perth with an aim to take a lead in the series    Getty Images
Australia and Pakistan will meet at Perth with an aim to take a lead in the series Getty Images

After a terrific fight-back on the final day of the first of the three-Test series, Pakistan‘s performance kept scaling down in the ongoing series Down Under. In addition, turning up in coloured clothings also did not deter the Australians from inflicting more pain on the visitors. Nonetheless, in the second One-Day International (ODI), Pakistan grasped their first win to level the five-match series 1-1. The action now moves to Perth’s WACA, where both sides will be eager to take a crucial 2-1 lead going forward to stay ahead in the race. Here is a look at the key clashes jotted down by Aditya Sahay:

Pakistan’s inconsistency vs Australia’s bounce-back ability: This is likely to be the mother of all clashes, at Perth. It is not a hidden fact that Pakistan’s ability to fall flat like they did in the series opener and then churn out a flawless performance in the second ODI makes them the most unpredictable line-up across formats. On the other hand, Australia know how to dominate in 50-over format and learn quickly from defeats. After being thrashed at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the hosts will be determined to make comeback. They may not be the menacing side like they were a half a decade ago, but one cannot rule out their ability to bounce back. Both side’s nature surely sets up an interesting tie at Perth.

FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs Australia, 3rd ODI at Perth

David Warner vs Pakistani pacers: Warner was in prolific touch in the third Test versus the tourists, but has witnessed a dip in form in the ODIs. Warner’s stumps were rattled in the series opener by Mohammad Aamer, whereas he poked one outside off-stump off Junaid Khan at MCG. A player of Warner’s calibre cannot be ruled out of action for long. He will be expected to come good on a bouncy track. Nonetheless, Aamer and Junaid have bowled well so far, and should be confident enough to stop the flow of runs from Australian vice-captain’s blade.

Glenn Maxwell vs Imad Wasim: Now this is an interesting clash between Australia’s power-hitter and Pakistan’s promising player. Maxwell scored a belligerent 60 in the first ODI, following it up with a 26-ball 23 in the next game. He was clean bowled by Imad, and will be rearing to have a go at him in the upcoming encounter. Maxwell has a below-par average of 21.42 against spinners, and has fallen to the likes of Moeen Ali and Ravichandran Ashwin 3 times each. He will be cautious as well as eager to make amends against Imad, whereas the latter will be upbeat to get the better of the right-hander once again.

Sharjeel Khan vs James Faulkner: Sharjeel will be expected to deliver in the all-important match. His scores of 18 off 22 and 29 off 32 balls speak volumes about his ability to muster quick runs at the start, but Pakistan’s lacklustre batting line-up needs more from him. He has been sent back to the hut by Faulkner on both occasions, and will face another daunting task ahead in the third ODI. Faulkner remains a threat to the left-hander with his variations and astute thinking. If either of the two gets the better of each other, it will set the tempo for their respective sides.

With lots to play for in this vital encounter, Steven Smith’s side still have an edge despite a forgettable outing at MCG. With Mitchell Starc being rested for this encounter, Josh Hazlewood will be expected to lead the attack. Australia will have an eye on the experienced duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, whereas Pakistan have a battle within themselves to churn out another thorough performance. The likes of Umar Akmal, Babar Azam and Mohammad Nawaz also have a role to play if they are to take a 2-1 lead in the series.