A 66-run victory in last night’s first T20 International in Abu Dhabi saw Pakistan dominate the Australians with the ball to go 1-0 up in the series. The Aussies didn’t necessarily bowl that badly, it was the batting collapse that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. These ‘all too familiar’ collapses have to stop on Australia’s behalf, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
Pakistan showed no mercy in the series opener last night as they trampled over a frail-Aussie outfit with relative ease. Key all-rounder Shoaib Malik was ruled out of the first match, but that didn’t seem to affect Pakistan as Mohammad Hafeez’s brisk-39 at No. 3 and Babar Azam’s unbeaten 68 at the top of the order largely-contributed to their overall total of 155/8. Having batted deep into the innings, that allowed the Pakistani middle order to have a swing which didn’t end in the most successful outcome with a lot of single-digit scores on the lower end being registered. It mattered very-little in the end thanks to Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf who led from the front in the bowling attack superbly. As the Australians disintegrated with the bat, the hosts were having the time of their lives as wickets continued to tumble at a plummeting rate. At the conclusion of the innings, Ashraf (2/10) and Wasim (3/20) had left a trail of destruction at the top of the Aussies batting order which really did tell the tale of what just went down.
20-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan kept things relatively quiet during his bowling spell as well, he’s another tricky customer Australia have to watch out for in two remaining games. Going by how this Pakistani bowling attack performed as a unit in Abu Dhabi, Australia might struggle to post a total of 150+ at all in the series. With Malik expected to return for the two remaining matches in the series, that should strengthen their middle order significantly, although they’d still want to see the likes of Hussain Talat and Asif Ali get as involved as possible. Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman smashed the living daylights out of Zimbabwe in the ODI & T20I series not long ago, proving that he also has plenty of upside in this team. Pakistan have made a great start to the series, they find themselves just one win away from wrapping up the TUC T20 Cup!
Where to now for the Australians? After a tremendous fight back in the first test at Dubai followed by a humiliating defeat in Abu Dhabi where they went down by 373 runs, they can add another forgettable result to their growing list of overseas defeats after losing the first T20 match of the series convincingly. Yet another batting collapse became the story of the game for Australia as Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim brought them to their knees relatively early in the innings. The top order collapsed like a house of cards, only Nathan Coulter-Nile showed any resilience in the lower order scoring 34 from 29 deliveries. It’s times like these that Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell and D’Arcy Short really need to serve up some decent individual efforts to maintain the selectors faith, particularly Maxwell who has been unfairly dealt with for the past couple of years by CA. Under some heavy scrutiny by the Australian general public, Mitchell Marsh was strangely-absent for the first game of the series which seemed a bit odd given this was one of his specialty formats.
The all-rounder may have been rested after the test series, one thing’s for sure is that they desperately need him in the middle-order distributing some big blows over the rope. We all know what prolific T20 opener D’Arcy Short is capable of after some blistering knocks in the BBL back home, here’s hoping he can translate that onto the big stage. The towering-Billy Stanlake was impressive with the ball claiming 3/21, while ‘Mr Variations’ Andrew Tye also bagged 3/24 as the pitch proved quite friendly for the seamers. Leggy Adam Zampa will be hoping to make his mark on the series with the ball, he’s never claimed a four or five-wicket haul in International cricket which should give him plenty of motivation. Australia is expected to persist with Ashton Agar and Zampa as their two spinners along with Short as a part-timer for this series, Ben McDermott however could make way for the Australian vice-captain Mitchell Marsh after a pretty lacklustre batting performance that went down in Abu Dhabi.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Pakistan | 2nd T20I | Dubai
- Fakhar Zaman
- Imad Wasim
- Shoaib Malik
- Shadab Khan
- Babar Azam
Wildcard pick – Sarfraz Ahmed
Top 5 fantasy picks | Australia | 2nd T20I | Dubai
- Aaron Finch
- Andrew Tye
- Glenn Maxwell
- Chris Lynn
- Billy Stanlake
Wildcard pick – D’Arcy Short
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Fakhar Zaman 2. Babar Azam 3. Hussain Talat/Mohammad Hafeez 4. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk) 5. Shoaib Malik 6. Asif Ali 7. Faheem Ashraf 8. Imad Wasim 9. Shadab Khan 10. Hasan Ali 11. Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Australia (possible) – 1. Aaron Finch © 2. D’Arcy Short 3. Chris Lynn 4. Glenn Maxwell 5. Ben McDermott/Mitchell Marsh 6. Alex Carey (wk) 7. Ashton Agar 8. Nathan Coulter-Nile 9. Adam Zampa 10. Andrew Tye 11. Billy Stanlake.