With so many franchise cricket and ICC events going around, a standalone T20I or even a T20 series has lost a lot of context. The same stands true in the ongoing Australia tour of Pakistan, which is set to conclude with a one-off T20I. The only T20I may have not a lot to offer in terms of rewards for any of these sides but given the way the ODI series panned out, both sides would want to top off this tour with a win.
The only T20I between Pakistan and Australia is to be played at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, which is the same venue where all three ODIs were played. The match is set to be played on Tuesday evening, 5th April 2022. Considering how well-fought the ODI series was, this is expected to be a feast for the fans as well. A cracker of a contest is certainly on the cards.
PAK VS AUS TEAM PREVIEWS
Winning the ODI series after being down 1-0, Pakistan certainly did something that not many expected of them. While this single T20I won’t add much to their win, they would want to register a win here and top off the tour on a high note. Another thing that Pakistan would be focusing on is testing the waters before the 2022 T20I World Cup, which is just a few months away from now and Pakistan does not have many T20Is to play to get their combination sorted.
Having said that, Pakistan did exceedingly well in the previous edition of the T20 World Cup and will derive plenty of confidence. To add to that, Pakistan has been in tremendous form in T20Is coming into this match, having won 11 of their last 12 T20Is.
The focus will be on the skipper and the side he chooses to come out with on Wednesday. Babar Azam is coming off red-hot form into this match but his exploits in this shortest format of the game have not been as effective as those have been in the ODIs. However, the opening pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam has been second to none when it comes to consistency and results.
On paper, Pakistan has a pretty young side with neither Shoaib Malik nor Mohammad Hafeez available in their middle order. The onus will be on the likes of Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Khushdil Shah to not only help their side with quick runs at the death but also bail the team out in case there are early wickets.
Pakistan’s bowling – as has often been the case, looks well settled with Shaheen Shah Afridi looking in sensational form. He has a knack for picking up a wicket in his first over and dealing with him is not going to be easy. He will have ample support from Haris Rauf and Mohammad Waseem if we were to go by the ODI performances. All in all, Pakistan have a dangerous side and with exceptional form behind them, they are not going to be an easy side to deal with, regardless of the conditions.
It’s not been a long time since Australia beat Pakistan in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2021 and they will dearly remember that. Having said that, not many players who were part of the squad back then are available to play for the Aussies in the coming match. Only three players – Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, and Aaron Finch, will be the only players playing in the upcoming match who were also part of that T20 World Cup match.
Just like Pakistan, Australia too are coming off a remarkable run in T20Is, of late. They have won ten out of their last 12 matches and another one here will add another feather to their cap, especially given that they are playing without several of their first-choice players. Their winning run includes a series win over Sri Lanka wherein their ability to play spin was tested and we expect that to happen here in this match too.
Australia seemed to be losing steam as the series progressed in the ODIs and they will be hoping that they can deliver their best in this upcoming contest. The focus will be on Aaron Finch who has not even been a shadow of himself ever since the World Cup win. He has plenty of experience behind him and a good knock here could set the tone for the Aussies going forward.
On paper and otherwise, Australia has a decent unit but lack of experience in playing in these conditions is going to be crucial. While they have Adam Zampa on the bowling front, the Aussies will need that extra support in the batting departments considering that it is not often that the Aussies find themselves playing in such conditions.
All in all, Australia will be looking to test a lot of things before the home T20 World Cup. They are a relatively young side but that could also work to their advantage. Aussies will need to play out of their skins in this upcoming match and if they can do so, getting past them is going to be incredibly difficult.
PAKISTAN VS AUSTRALIA MATCH DETAILS:
Match: Pakistan vs Australia, Only T20I, Australia tour of Pakistan, 2022.
Date and Time: April 5, 2022, Tuesday; 08:30 PM IST.
Venue: Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
The pitch in Lahore has been an excellent one for batting. Batters made hay in the ODI series. and run-making wasn’t a challenge. Bowlers had to work hard to pick wickets. Winning the toss and fielding first should be the way forward.
It should be warm with no chance of rain. The temperature should be around the 30-degree Celsius mark. The humidity might not be on the higher side.
PROBABLE XI PAKISTAN
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (C), Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
Aaron Finch (C), Travis Head, Ben McDermott, Josh Inglis/Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar/Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Ellis, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff.
PROBABLE TOP PERFORMERS
PROBABLE BEST BATTER OF THE MATCH: BABAR AZAM
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam will be coming into this match high on confidence after his outstanding performance in the ODI series where he was adjudged the Player of the Series having amassed 276 runs including two centuries and a half-century. Azam is the top-ranked T20I batter and he would certainly want to prove why he belongs there with a blistering performance against the Aussies on the 22 yards.
PROBABLE BEST BOWLER OF THE MATCH: SHAHEEN AFRIDI
Shaheen Afridi has been Pakistan’s best bowler not only in T20Is but also in ODIs and Tests. The tall pacer has the ability not only to make the new ball do the talking but also provide some crucial breakthroughs at the death. The Australian batters, especially captain Finch, will need to watch out for those quick in-swinging deliveries initially.
Considering how the ODI series panned out, the upcoming game is expected to be a high-scoring affair. Both teams have power-packed batting lineups, so the team batting second should come up trumps.
Prediction: The team batting second to win.