Australia vs Pakistan: Third ODI Preview

Batsman takes guard

Our cricket writer looks at the third ODI between Australia and Pakistan set to take place at the WACA on Thursday.

The ODI series between these two cricket-mad countries is shaping up to be a fascinating contest, after Pakistan drew level by winning the second match at the MCG, largely thanks to their bowlers.

The showdown between Australia and Pakistan looks set to be a battle between the hosts' explosive batting line-up - and the versatile Pakistan bowling attack.
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Australia v Pakistan | Thursday, 19 January 2017 | The WACA, Perth | 05:20

To Win Match
Australia 2/7 | Tie 35/1 | Pakistan 28/10

Despite winning the first ODI comfortably, on balance over the two matches so far, Australia have looked the weaker of the two teams, with their top order looking makeshift at best - and criminally irresponsible at worst.

Chris Lynn has been ruled out of the third ODI, with his neck injury flaring up. He has been sent home to Brisbane to consult a specialist - and decide on the most appropriate course of action.

They remain a dangerous opponent, though, and are not number one in the world in this format for no reason. If David Warner fires, he can take the game away from any team.

The small total they put up in Melbourne left the pressure squarely on Australia's bowlers, with Pakistan able to manage their chase with ease. While the bulk of the blame for that falls on the Aussie top order, their lack of versatility in attack was a concern - and we could see leg-spinner Adam Zampa return to the line-up at The WACA.

Australia will have to get by without influential all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who has been sidelined by injury, with Marcus Stoinis drafted in as a questionable like-for-like replacement. Stoinis' selection has come as a relative shock, with the player sporting a mediocre record in domestic limited-overs cricket.

Peter Handscomb has been brought into the squad, as well, as cover for Chris Lynn, having impressed in the Test series.

Mitchell Starc will be rested for the Perth leg of the series, with Billy Stanlake looking almost certain to return for a second ODI after his debut was ruined by illness.

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Azhar Ali's charges will be boosted by the return of their skipper - and will take a lot of confidence from recording their first ODI win in Australia for 12 years at the MCG over the weekend.

Their batsman remained calm during their chase at the MCG, although one could put that down to the modest size of the total they were chasing.

The return to form of Mohammad Hafeez will pose a selection and batting-order conundrum for the selectors, who might look to keep Hafeez and Sharjeel Khan together at the top of the order and slot Azhar in at three.

Sharjeel simply has to play in this format because, like Warner for Australia, he has the potential to be an explosive match-winner.

The balance of Pakistan's bowling attack was impressive at the MCG, where the spinners bogged down the Australians and allowed the quicks to strike.

How they adapt to the lightning-quick WACA surface will be interesting, though. The last ODI played in Perth saw Australia chase down 310 to beat India on an absolute road of a pitch - and this will be a stern Test of Pakistan's quality with the ball in hand.

Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir impressed in the last outing - and should keep Wahab Riaz, who has struggled with control and consistency, out of the team.

Verdict: Australia 2/7
They look to have their backs up against the wall, but The WACA will suit the home side's skillsets far more than it will those of Pakistan - and could bring back memories of the mauling England gave them at Trent Bridge.

We expect one of the Australian top-order batsmen to come good and, if it is Warner, Pakistan could be in for a long day in the field.

Value bet: First wicket method - bowled 4/1
The opening batsmen will have to contend with attacking bowlers, who will more than likely drop a few rapid yorkers on them in the first few overs. 

Given how the openers have struggled in the series so far, a little flutter on the first wicket to fall being one of them getting castled could give you some serious bang for your buck.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for

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