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HomeAustraliaZimbabwe T20I Tri-Series Final Preview: Australia v Pakistan

Zimbabwe T20I Tri-Series Final Preview: Australia v Pakistan

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

Zimbabwe Tri Series Final Preview: Australia v Pakistan Cricket Blog

In the early stages of the week, it seemed like the series was Australia’s to lose. However, as is often the case in triangular series and larger one day tournaments, the team who starts the strongest doesn’t always mean they finish that way.

Since Australia‘s annihilation of Pakistan then Zimbabwe, they have been a little shaky. A key underlying factor to this is two low scores for Aaron Finch, and when he was out early against Zimbabwe, a shock win for the host nation was on the cards. Australia need others to step up effectively, and while Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head put on an important stand on Friday, it all still looked a little unconvincing. To win today, the Aussies will need to lift, and that is something Aaron Finch is confident about.

Pakistan had their doubters after a humiliating loss to today’s opponents on Monday. However, they have bounced back very well. After a somewhat low key, unconvincing performance against Zimbabwe, Pakistan then really flexed their muscle in their second match against Australia, gaining revenge in emphatic fashion. With conditions slowing down in Zimbabwe as the week has progressed, Australia has struggled more, where the opposite is true for Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan start deserved favourites.

Key to an Australia win

I have two main concerns with Australia right now.
Of course, the first is the reliance on skipper Aaron Finch. Australia dominated the first two games thanks significantly to his power hitting, but since he has been dismissed early, the middle order has not provided too much confidence that they can deliver under pressure. Finch is certainly the key for Australia in this final – if he can fire, then there is enough batting to provide support and help Australia set or chase convincingly.
Also, another concern is Australia’s potency with the ball right throughout the 20 overs. Billy Stanlake has been picking up wickets at the start of the innings, and Andrew Tye at the end, but who has it in them to pick up important middle over wickets? What happens if Pakistan get a good start in the powerplay, as was the case in their win over Australia the other day?
In the last match against Zimbabwe, Australia had the hosts reeling at 44/3 at the end of the powerplay. The history of T20 cricket tells you that teams rarely win when losing three wickets in the powerplay, and Zimbabwe nearly did. The hosts ended up reaching 151 and had Australia sweating. 
Also, a lack of penetration at times during the loss v Pakistan needs to be rectified here. Fakhar Zaman is a key wicket at the top, to put pressure on the likes of Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, who look in good touch.

Key to a Pakistan win

Shaheen Afridi has burst onto the Zimbabwe scene in this series and he was the key wicket taker of Aaron Finch in Pakistan’s big win over Australia.
In addition to Afridi, Pakistan have quality right throughout their bowling attack, and has been the cornerstone of their rise to the number one ranking. Since July 2016, Pakistan have best economy rate (7.06) among the top ten T20I teams, and with pitch conditions suiting them more and more as the series goes on, Australia face a tough test. If they dismiss Finch early, it will go a long way to victory.
Also, Fakhar Zaman is coming off a career-best 73 against today’s opponents, and he was excellent in his movements across the crease to put the Australians off. He targeted both the off and on side very well, which made him difficult to bowl to. If he can repeat this, Pakistan have enough players in good touch to back him up, and set or chase a good total.

Possible teams

Australia dropped D’Arcy Short for the last game against Zimbabwe as a result of his struggle to get going. He has struck at less than 100 in 90 balls faced this series, but considering his potential, Australia could bring him back after Alex Carey bagged a low score as opener on Friday. If it were up to me, I’d bring in D’Arcy Short for Nic Maddinson. It remains to be seen.
Australia possible XI: 1. Aaron Finch (c), 2. Alex Carey (wk), 3. Travis Head, 4. Glenn Maxwell, 5. Marcus Stoinis, 6. Nic Maddinson, 7. Ashton Agar, 8. Jack Wildermuth, 9. Andrew Tye, 10. Jhye Richardson, 11. Billy Stanlake
An Aussie isn’t the only opener struggling in this series. How bad is Haris Sohail looking? It remains to be seen whether Pakistan stick with him for the final.
Pakistan possible XI: 1. Fakhar Zaman, 2. Haris Sohail/Mohammad Hafeez, 3. Hussain Talat, 4. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 5. Shoaib Malik, 6. Asif Ali, 7. Faheem Ashraf, 8. Shadab Khan, 9. Mohammad Amir, 10. Usman Khan, 11. Shaheen Afridi

Stats and Facts

  • No matter the result here, Pakistan will retain their number one ranking thanks to beating Australia the other day.
  • Both games between these two in this series have been one sided. Australia won by nine wickets with 55 balls to spare on Monday, and then Pakistan by 45 runs on Thursday.
  • Australia have played a tri-series in Zimbabwe before. It was an ODI Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe and South Africa in 2014, and lost in the final.

Prediction

Before the series started, I picked Pakistan to win. I went with my head, rather than my heart. 
I will stick with this, given Australia’s reliance on Finch and slower pitches now coming to the fore. With two one sided games between the two sides so far, this one could be close. 
Thanks for reading!

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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