3rd ODI: Australia on cusp of series, Pakistan desperate
Aaron Finch's two hundreds sealed wins while Pakistan's came in losses.

How the tide has turned. A month ago, sixth-ranked Australia were struggling to put together a win in ODI cricket, having not won a series for over two years.

Then Aaron Finch‘s team landed in India, won the two-match T20I series and followed that up by making history as they came back from 0-2 down to take the ODIs 3-2. Since then, they’ve moved to the UAE and won the first two ODIs against hosts Pakistan to stand one win away from taking the series.

Victory for Finch’s men on Wednesday in the third ODI in Abu Dhabi would make it Australia’s best winning run since Michael Clarke’s team lifted the World Cup in 2015. Should they win, it will mean five consecutive ODI victories for a team written off as World Cup contenders at the start of 2019.

Pakistan have struggled to take wickets, as back-to-back defeats by eight wickets testify. But the problem has also been that they have not reached 300 in either game. In the first ODI they made 280/5 with Haris Sohail scoring his maiden century but lost by eight wickets as Finch got 116; in the second, a total of 284/7, in which Mohammad Rizwan got his first hundred, was made to look insufficient as Finch finished with a career-best 153*.

Their ODI batting appears stuck in a time warp, and to prevent a hat-trick of losses they will have to sort out the worries.

Match details

What: Pakistan vs Australia, 3rd ODI

When: Wednesday, March 27

Where: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Time: 16:30 IST

Team news

Pakistan

Needing to win to avoid a series loss, Pakistan could make changes. The opener Shan Masood has scores of 40 and 19, Imam-ul-Haq 0 and 17. One may have to go. The uncapped Saad Ali could get the nod. (READ: No need to panic: Sarfraz Ahmed)

Yasir Shah’s World Cup hopes are fast fading after returns of one wicket for 116 runs in two games. His spot could go to a fast bowler. Mohammad Amir may also get the shaft after a wicketless outing.

Likely XI: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Shan Masood/Saad Ali, 3 Haris Sohail, 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik (capt), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Mohammad Amir/Junaid Khan, 10 Usman Shinwari, 11 Mohammad Abbas

Australia

The visitors fielded an unchanged XI for the second ODI but with Jhye Richardson out of the tour, they will be forced to change a winning team. Pat Cummins’ workload is being monitored and the management may opt to test out one of Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson ahead of the World Cup.

Likely XI: 1 Usman Khawaja, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Peter Handscomb, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Jason Behrendorff/Kane Richardson, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Adam Zampa

Pitch and conditions

Teams prefer to bat in Abu Dhabi, history says. The track at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium has not always been conducive to high scores, and spinners have managed to give opposing batsmen problems under lights. Wednesday’s forecast is for conditions in the mid-20s.

Stats

Australia have not won consecutive ODI series overseas since 2016.

Imam-ul-Haq averages 78.25 after five ODI innings in Abu Dhabi.

In nine ODIs in Abu Dhabi, left-arm pace bowler Junaid Khan has claimed 17 wickets.

Quotes

“We can’t take it easy. We can’t think that we’ve done all the hard work and that we’re fine now.” – Usman Khawaja