AUSTRALIA v PAKISTAN 2ND ODI
MCG, 15th January
A new-look Australia found an unlikely hero in Matthew Wade and brushed aside Pakistan easily in the first ODI at Brisbane to go 1-0 up. Now with the teams set to tussle at Melbourne, there are more questions popping up for the visitors which makes the task of coming back into the series difficult than ever.
Australia ticking all boxes
The World Champions went for the jugular at the Gabba by handing free license to Travis Head and Chris Lynn. Though it didn’t yield the expected results, the confidence in the side is so high that you can barely think of them slipping. David Warner and Steve Smith haven’t been among runs at Brisbane but how often is it that you find both of them flopping two games in a row?
Head’s handy off-spinners gave Smith some options and he would love the balance provided by James Faulkner, Head and Mitchell Marsh. Melbourne pitch may warrant an inclusion for Adam Zampa too.
Mounting challenges for Pakistan
First they lose important players – Mohamad Irfan and Sarfraz Ahmed had to leave the tour for family reasons. And then their ODI captain Azhar Ali who’s already under pressure to improve results had to endure a hamstring tear at Brisbane. If he does miss this match, it could prove to be a leadership conundrum for the visitors.
There is no dearth of experience in this line-up with Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik ready to step up if needed. But the bigger problem right now is consistency, for a side that has enough match winners. Even with the ball, the combination of Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali is good enough to challenge the hosts.
Debutant Billy Stanlake couldn’t go beyond three overs due to fitness problems which may hamper his selection for this match. Mitchell Starc could be rested for this game and Josh Hazlewood could slot back in. There could be a recall for Adam Zampa too, probably in the place of Stanlake.
Batting looked short of experience and Shoaib Malik may get back in the place of Mohammad Nawaz. There’s also a case of looking at replacing Wahab Riaz who looked less incisive and more expensive. The composition could go for a toss if Azhar Ali fails to get fit.
Pakistan’s inability to cash in their chances in the first ODI is another reason why the odds market isn’t favoring them to win at Melbourne either. An Aussie win at odds of 1.22 doesn’t offer value but at odds of 5.00, Pakistan win is too risky to ponder.
Imad Wasim has been one of the consistent performers for Pakistan with the ball in the recent past. His no-nonsense bowling offers control in the middle overs and also makes him an ideal bet to end up as Pakistan’s best bowler. Odds of 5.50 make him a worthy punt to take a look.
The presence of big hitters like Head, Warner, Smith and Lynn makes the Kangaroos a dangerous outfit. Back them to score more sixes than their counterparts at odds of 1.45.
Australia Most Sixes8 at 1.45-8