Pakistan will continue their ICC ODI Super League campaign against a depleted Australian side at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Tuesday with the visitors losing two of their players on the eve of the first of the three-One-day International series.
Australia, already without key players due to different reasons, have been dealt by an injury to seasoned all-rounder Mitchell Marsh while wicket-keeper Josh Inglis has tested positive for coronavirus.
Placed tenth in the ODI Super League table after just three of their scheduled eight series played, Pakistan will look to make the most while Australia — at seven — face a challenge without David Warner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Steven Smith, who were a part of their 1-0 Test series triumph.
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman said the hosts were aiming to take home all 30 points up for grabs in the series.
“They are missing some big names so that will make a difference,” he said.
“But it’s an international team and we are not going to take them lightly because Australia is known for doing well in all situations and all circumstances.”
After a hard fought Test series, which included an unexciting draw in Rawalpindi, a thrilling one in Karachi and concluded with a 115-run defeat for Pakistan in Lahore, Fakhar said Babar Azam’s men were only looking forward.
“Our captain has spoken that what has happened is beyond us… this is a new series so we will do our best to win it,” said the flamboyant southpaw.
For Australia, who have won all of their last seven ODI series against Pakistan, it will be about the less experienced players rising to the occasion.
The 22-year-old Cameron Green did exactly that in the Test series with his all-round capabilities, especially during the last Test. He is expected to be pushed into the white-ball side as the like-for-like replacement for Marsh, who injured his hip flexor during a fielding drill on Sunday.
“Cam will play and probably bat in that middle-order role,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said during the pre-match online press conference. “We have seen he is a super-talented cricketer. He is someone who has been quite consistent in his Test career, his impact with the bat and ball can’t be understated.
“Really excited for Cam to get that opportunity.”
Finch will also expect performances from new players Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis and Ben McDermott while also testing his squad’s depth with his eyes on the ODI World Cup, scheduled to be held in India next year.
“We still feel like we have a squad to do that even though it is inexperienced at times that can be a blessing because you have guys who can play freely and express themselves,” said the Australian skipper.
“It’s about trying to build the depth of the squad and build experience in players.
“It is a really good opportunity. With every decision we make there is one eye towards the 50-over World Cup and to tie everything back to that is really important.
“Our goal 100% is to win this series.”
Pakistan are likely to be without leg-spinner Shadab Khan for the first two ODIs, as he recovers from a groin injury he sustained during the Pakistan Super League earlier this year. The national team vice-captain, however, was seen batting and bowling in the nets during Pakistan’s practice sessions.
The hosts’ pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi’s inclusion in the side for the first ODI also remains a question after he was hit on his leg while batting during net practice.
Fakhar said Pakistan will look to score big on what will be batting-friendly pitches in Lahore with the dew factor likely to play its role under lights.
PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Asif Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-Ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.
AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (captain), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Adam Zampa.