Australia and Pakistan go head to head in fourth ODI this Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia got back on top with a clinical win over Pakistan at the WACA, which was powered by a masterful ton from skipper Steve Smith. The win swings the momentum back in favour of the hosts and leaves Pakistan needing victory in the fourth ODI to stay alive in the series.
Things haven't quite clicked for the visitors this series and, while there were encouraging performances in Perth, the overall showing will leave morale lagging a bit.
The series moves to Sydney - and the slower surface may be a tonic for a misfiring Pakistan outfit, which will take heart from India's win here a year ago.
Australia v Pakistan | Fourth ODI | Saturday, 22 January 2017 | The SCG, Sydney | 05:20
To Win Match
Australia 1/4 | Tie 35/1 | Pakistan 31/10
The performance of Smith's men in the third ODI was more fitting of a team ranked number one in ODI cricket, with Pakistan's spinners taken out of the game by the fast Perth surface.
The SCG is perhaps the slowest of the Australian wickets - and the batsmen will have their abilities against spin examined in earnest once more.
Peter Handscomb had an impressive ODI debut, hitting 82 off 84 balls. His addition to the XI has brought the middle order an air of stability, where before it gave the impression of being somewhat makeshift.
Josh Hazlewood starred with the ball at the WACA - and did a great job of leading the attack. He returned brilliantly economical figures of three for 32 in 10 overs - and will welcome back regular pace partner Mitchell Starc, who was rested for the 3rd ODI.
Australia will be eager to wrap the series up in Sydney - and as such will likely field their strongest possible XI.
Smith has been in wonderful touch - and continues to provide runs at first drop. Admittedly, he has taken advantage of an inexplicable decision by Pakistan not to review a caught behind appeal. Replays, indeed, suggested he would have been out.
Pakistan will have to pick themselves up after they were soundly beaten in Perth, but will draw inspiration from the performances of some players in the XI.
Sharjeel Khan played a gem of a little innings up front, while Babar Azam returned to form and reached 1,000 ODI runs in record-equalling time on his way to 84.
Mohammad Amir has been on song this series, while not necessarily getting the reward he has deserved. In Perth, he finished with figures of one for 36 from his 10 overs. He was the only Pakistan bowler to go at less than five runs per over.
Pakistan will be hoping to have skipper Azhar Ali and spin bowling all-rounder Shoaib Malik back for the clash at the SCG. Should they return, one feels Pakistan will pose a far greater threat to Australia clinching the series with a game to spare.
If they don't yet know it, Pakistan are slowly becoming aware that cricket is a game of inches - and incredibly small margins can make a huge difference. They will need to improve in the field if they are to get back into this series - and simply cannot continue to give second chances to Australia's lethal batting line-up.
Verdict: Australia 1/4
Australia to shade a tight contest. It could very well be a case of the home side being let off the hook by mistakes from the opposition - or one of the Asian team's all too familiar batting collapses.
The slow wicket is likely to keep Pakistan interested for at least as long as they can keep their foot on the gas, but Australia simply look too good to be beaten again by a team that have yet to deliver a complete performance.
Value bet: First wicket method - LBW (Price to be updated on release)
With Hazlewood, Starc and Amir all looking to bowl full and straight, there is an excellent chance that the first stick will come from a leg before decision. While caught is always the favourite in these stakes, a wager on LBW will earn you an excellent return.