Pakistan will be hoping to end another disappointing tour of Australia with a consolation victory during the fifth and final match of the One-Day International (ODI) series at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday (January 26). The visitors will seek to be party poopers and ruin Australia Day festivities during the annual fixture in Adelaide.
With just one victory against Australia from seven matches across the formats, Pakistan will be hoping to end the tour on a positive note although one suspects they already have one foot on the plane and have been daydreaming of returning home after copping a thrashing during game four in Sydney to concede another series defeat in Australia.
Sydney aside, Pakistan had been genuinely competitive in the opening three matches, highlighted by the six-wicket victory in game two at the MCG, but frustratingly haven’t been able to sustain their form for long enough.
In Sydney, the bad side of Pakistan reared with a horrendous fielding display, undoubtedly one of the shoddiest efforts from a team on Australian soil for some time. A mishmash of botched catches and constant misfields blighted Pakistan and left Mickey Arthur, their coach, shaking his head in disbelief. It felt like Pakistan, who have taken some positive steps during Arthur’s fledgling reign, went backwards and the South African will be hoping his team can shake off that funk with an improved performance in Adelaide.
With the SCG’s wicket notably flat, Pakistan spearheads Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan were unable to conjure any swing, leaving the team vulnerable as David Warner, Australia’s explosive opener, cut loose during a match-winning innings. Pakistan will be desperate for the notoriously flat Adelaide Oval wicket to be helpful for the pacemen early otherwise they could be once again in major strife.
Pakistan’s batting, considered the team’s weak point, has been inconsistent but encouraging signs from hard-hitting opener Sharjeel Khan and precocious youngster Babar Azam bode well for the team’s future and bid to rise up the ODI rankings.
On an Adelaide Oval wicket offering an abundance of runs, Sharjeel and Babar will be striving for big scores and become Pakistan’s first centurions in this series. If Pakistan can finally win a toss, after losing four straight this series, and bat first then they might fancy a chance of a belated victory.
Meanwhile, Australia will be hoping to complete a stunning rebirth and win their 11th match from 12 games across the formats since the nadir of Hobart in mid-November. Australia appears settled after a solid series but several players will be aiming to cement their spots with starring performances in Adelaide. Usman Khawaja, the Australian opener, has teased but not produced a score of substance since being recalled for game two as Aaron Finch ominously looms after being selected for the upcoming Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand.
Adam Zampa, Australia’s legspinner, claimed key wickets in Sydney after a prolonged absence and his encouraging performance would have pleased Australian selectors looking for a specialist spinner instead of relying on part-timers.
With a three-match series ahead in New Zealand and, of course, the daunting tour of India looming, the series finale in Adelaide looms as an important hit out for an Australian side aiming to ensure the goodwill continues to emanate. For both teams, the final match of the series is much more than merely a dead rubber.
When: Thursday, January 26, 1.50PM local, 0850AM IST
Where: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
What to expect: The forecast in Adelaide is for a sunny 30 degrees ensuring perfect conditions on Australia Day. The pitch is expected to be a batting paradise with the team winning the toss almost certain to bat first.
Australia: For the last time this summer, Australia is likely to have a full-strength team to pick from and is set to be unchanged from the victorious side in Sydney. Australia’s final three matches of the summer will be next month against Sri Lanka in Twenty20 cricket but they will field a second-string team with the core of the side touring India for the four-Test series.
Pakistan: With the series over, Pakistan may experiment with their team and are likely to make some changes. Wahab Riaz, who produced a memorable spell in Adelaide during the World Cup two years ago, could earn a recall after Pakistan’s attack was taken apart at the SCG.
What they said:
“It’s a really important game to make sure not only you’re winning as a team, you’re keeping that winning momentum because sometimes it’s an easy thing to lose,” – Glenn Maxwell
“Certainly, the standards we set for this cricket team haven’t been met in the field. So that’s really disappointing,” – Mickey Arthur
Did you know?
The last time Australia played an ODI in Adelaide was during the World Cup two years ago in the quarter-final against Pakistan, a match best remembered for Pakistani paceman Wahab Riaz’s fiery spell. However, Australia emerged victorious en route to a World Cup triumph.
Australia has a dominant record against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval winning six from seven matches. However, Australia has won just three out of their last seven ODIs at the ground.
Pakistani batsman Umar Akmal is two away from 3000 ODI runs, while Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell needs 76 to reach 2000 ODI runs.
Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Mitch Starc, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Junaid Khan.