The Indian Premier League and the upcoming ICC World Cup cricket may be the cake, but the Pakistan vs Australia ODI series is still the icing. Two of the favourites for the World Cup honours will fight over the next five matches to gain momentum.
Australia certainly have that momentum, after the come-from-behind 3-2 series win in India. The same squad has travelled to the UAE and should be confident of pulling another upset. Pakistan have rested many of their regulars with an eye on rotating the squad.
The hosts made eight changes to the squad that lost 3-2 in South Africa. Captain Sarfraz Ahmed is also rested, which means Shoaib Malik will continue to lead the side. Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam are also not available, making this an unpredictable Pakistan unit.
Pakistan will welcome back Haris Sohail and Umar Aksmal, while Yasir Shah will look to make his rare chance count. With Imam-ul-Haq, Malik and Mohammad Rizwan around, there is still a lot of flair in the side.
Pakistan Predicted XI: 1 Imam-ul-Haq 2 Shan Masood 3 Umar Akmal 4 Haris Sohail 5 Shoaib Malik 6 Mohammad Rizwan (WK) 7 Faheem Ashraf 8 Imad Wasim 9 Yasir Shah 10 Mohammad Amir 11 Usman Shinwari
After doing the impossible in India by beating them 3-2, Australia are a confident lot. Aaron Finch has regained his form, while Usman Khawaja looked in excellent touch. Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa enjoyed leading the bowling unit and should do the same in the UAE.
Of slight concern is the reported illness in the camp, that could rule out Glenn Maxwell. Nathan Lyon should get a chance on a dry Sharjah track. If they continue to play the same level of cricket that trumped India, Australia will be a handful for Pakistan.
Australia Predicted XI: 1 Aaron Finch 2 Usman Khawaja 3 Shaun Marsh 4 Peter Handscomb 5 Marcus Stoinis 6 Ahston Turner 7 Alex Carey (WK) 8 Jhye Richardson 9 Pat Cummins 10 Adam Zampa 11 Nathan Lyon
Fantasy Players to Watch
Usman Khawaja was in top form in India scoring runs at will. He scored 383 runs to be the top-scorer on either side. In addition, he had four 50+ scores in five matches making him the most consistent batsman of the series.
Imam-ul-Haq had an excellent series against South Africa scoring 271 runs. He had three 50+ scores in five games and will look to continue the form.
Pat Cummins had an exceptional 12 months in all forms of cricket. In India, he had 14 wickets to his name and was also very economical. A sure pick for your fantasy side.
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