Pakistan will have their hopes pinned on Sharjeel Khan    AFP
Pakistan will have their hopes pinned on Sharjeel Khan AFP

Pakistan will face an uphill task in order to achieve a consolatory victory, as they face an on-song Australian cricket team on Thursday at a packed Adelaide Oval, expected to be thronged by scores of fans as it is a holiday due to Australia Day . Pakistan have misfired all throughout this tour, and their poor performances across departments have led to embarrassing defeats in the three-match Test series as well as in the five-match ODI series. Australia, on the other hand, will aim to end their season at home with a win which would take their margin to 4-1. While Australia are not expected to make any change to their playing XI, Pakistan might try out those who have been on the bench. Nevertheless, let us take a look at the possible key battles for the one last time in this series:

David Warner vs Junaid Khan: Warner picked up after making an ordinary start to the series. In the previous ODI at Sydney, Warner hammered a 119-ball 130 to set up a big win. This was after his initial struggles against the left-arm Pakistani pace duo of Junaid Khan and Mohammad Aamer. Junaid has clearly been a bright spot for Pakistan since his comeback, as he has bowled with a lot of heart. He has also committed errors like overstepping but Junaid will be backed to keep Warner quiet early on, and trouble him with the new ball. The wicket at the Adelaide Oval is going to be batting-friendly, and Pakistan will need their ace bowler to keep the Australian run-machine in pressure. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Pakistan, 5th ODI at Adelaide Oval

Steven Smith vs Mohammad Aamer: Smith has also hit a purple patch, which is a bad sign for Pakistan going into this game. He has scored two crucial knocks so far in the series, and what will be Australia s final game at home for a very long time, he will hope to end on a high. Pitted against him will be Aamer, who has found rhythm with the white ball after playing a lot with the red. Aamer has been able to deliver and maintain tight line and lengths, and even accounted for Smith in the first ODI at Brisbane.

Glenn Maxwell vs Imad Wasim: In a battle between the two quality all-rounders, Maxwell is expected to emerge on top because of the form he has been in with the bat. Maxwell scored a crucial fifty in the first ODI and in the fourth match at Sydney, he hammered a 44-ball 78 to power Australia past 350-run mark. On the other hand, Imad made an impressive start with the ball but seems to have lost his magic as the series progressed. He was plundered for a lot of runs by the Australian batsmen in the fourth ODI, with Maxwell starting his innings with a reverse-sweep six which was powerfully hit. Imad has let down his side with the bat as well, which will inspire him to do better.

Sharjeel Khan vs Josh Hazlewood: Sharjeel has unarguably been Pakistan s best batsmen on this tour so far. He made amends after dropping two crucial catches at Sydney with a rapid 47-ball 74 in Pakistan s stiff chase, and till the time he was there at the crease, the visitors had some hopes of winning the game. Interestingly, for the first time, any Pakistan batsman who showed aggressive intent against Hazlewood was Sharjeel. Hazlewood has so far remained measly across the two series, but Sharjeel did not spare the Australian quick, even hitting him for a six over long on. On the current form, Sharjeel is expected to carry on with his aggressive game, and there can be no better opponent than Hazlewood to stop the Pakistani opener.

Babar Azam vs Mitchell Starc: He may not have scored heaps of runs as he did against West Indies, but Babar has done a decent job with the bat so far. His innings of 84 set a good platform for Pakistan to win in the third ODI, but their bowlers could not contain the Australians. Babar has had a successful approach of batting without any hurry for runs or going for ambitious strokes, which has helped him to garner some runs on this tour. Starc, the leader of the Australian pace attack, has had some success against Babar, especially in the channel around the off-stump.