AUSTRALIA v PAKISTAN 3RD ODI
WACA, Perth - Thursday 19th January
After a two-month domination of Pakistan across Tests and ODIs, Australia were brought crashing down at the MCG. Now with the series tied 1-1, we head to Perth for the third ODI on Thursday, January 19.
Vulnerable and injury-hit hosts
A sweep in the Test series and a comprehensive win in the ODI at Brisbane notwithstanding this Aussie side is far from being settled. Batting looked ragged in both the matches with the team struggling to score enough on slow pitches.
Perth’s famous bounce isn’t the same anymore but the pitch should suit the Kangaroos more. Injuries to Chris Lynn and Mitch Marsh mean a call-up for Peter Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis. There’s also the case of managing the work load of the pacers which could see Mitchell Starc resting.
Is this the momentum for Pakistan?
Strange it may sound but with just one win, the visitors seem to have found their mojo. Their bowling was spot-on in both the matches so far and the control exhibited by their slow bowlers was particularly impressive. Stand-in captain Mohammad Hafeez too impressed with his aggressive fields apart from leading the charge with the bat.
WACA will offer a bit of pace and bounce and this may not be bad news at all for Pakistan. Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan looked in fine touch although the support has mostly come from the spinners. But it’s certainly not beyond them to.
Injuries and tactical changes result in a debut for the highly rated Handscomb at Perth. Billy Stanlake has recovered and is announced as replacement for the rested Starc. There’s still no place for Adam Zampa who’s released to play in Big Bash.
Azhar Ali is still struggling to get fit which could see him missing the bus once again. You generally don’t tinker with a winning squad and Pakistan at Melbourne looked to have ticked all boxes.
Cricket is a funny game of momentum shifts and Pakistan will start at Perth in the best frame of mind. Is that enough to overturn Australia and surge to an unlikely series win? Bettors market doesn’t think so and an Australian win is offered at odds of 1.30. It’s easy to be aggressive and back Pakistan at odds of 4.25 although that punt is fraught with risks.
Where was Junaid – that was the question everyone had when he made a surprise and successful return to the team at Melbourne. With his pace and swing back, the wily left-arm bowler could be their top bowler at Perth. Back him at odds of 4.50.
Hazlewood and Faulkner have led the bowling for the Aussies so far but the bright spot has been the return-to-fitness of Pat Cummins. With the pitch to his liking, a punt on him topping the bowling charts isn’t a bad choice. Odds offered are 4.50.