Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch
Shaun Marsh (L) and Aaron Finch (AFP Photo)

With the World Cup approaching, Australia are looking like a well-oiled unit. Only in January they were being touted as unfancied before a stunning reversal saw them beat second-ranked India 3-2 in an away five-match ODI series. The winning run continues as they comfortably beat a depleted Pakistan in the series opening ODI at Sharjah with captain Aaron Finch returning to form with a match-winning century.

Apart from Finch, veteran Shaun Marsh also scored a solid unbeaten 91 in a dominating show with the bat. That Australia were left to chase a sub-300 total was largely thanks to their two spinners – Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa – who kept the ‘home’ batsmen quiet delivering economical bowling spell.

With the spinners having a dominant say in limited-overs matches in recent times, the emergence of the duo as a reliable pair bodes well for the defending world champions.

Pakistan, though, will not be reading too much into this performance as they are missing several first-choice players and are looking at the ongoing series as a chance to test their bench strength. However, they must be a little worried with how Mohammed Amir continues to be ineffective as was evident from his figures of 0/59 from 9 overs. The two captains also churned out contrasting performances. Finch led from the front with a century but Shoaib Malik managed 11 off 7 before delivering one over in which he leaked 10 runs.

Clearly, Pakistan have their own problems to sort out despite fielding a depleted side.

What: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd ODI

Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Time: 4:30 pm (IST)

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 34 degree Celsius

Team News

Pakistan

Amir could be asked to sit this game out with Usman Shinwari replacing him. They have taken a host of uncapped players to the UAE who could end up making their debuts during the course of the series.

Probable XI: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Shan Masood, 3 Umar Akmal, 4 Haris Sohail, 5 Shoaib Malik (capt), 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Yasir Shah, 10 Usman Shinwari, 11 Mohammad Abbas

Australia

While Australia might be tempted to not disturb with the winning combination, they could, keeping World Cup in mind, rotate the players. Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins sat out of the first ODI and could return.

Probable XI: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Peter Handscomb, 5 Glenn Maxwell/Ashton Turner, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Jhye Richardson/Pat Cummins, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Adam Zampa

Quotes

“I feel like my game has been in a really good spot for a while. It is just that there have been some times when I’ve got a couple of good balls early, made a couple of mistakes early.” – Aaron Finch

“What different we must do is to take wickets at the top. There is not much difference. We scored 280 runs, which was a good total, and it would not have been chased at Sharjah, maybe once or twice it was chased before.” – Shoaib Malik