Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pakistan eye clean sweep

Big Picture
With the series decided via the means of a Super Over, Pakistan and Australia are intent on some more high intensity preparation for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka during the final match in Dubai. For Pakistan, the match provides a chance to employ some players not yet used, including Mohammad Sami and Yasir Arafat. It also offers the tantalising prospect of a clean sweep over Australia, something seldom achieved in any format.

The Australians, by contrast, are simply hopeful that the upward trend of their T20 form in the series - a hiding in the first match, a far better showing in the second - will continue with a victory to take them to Sri Lanka with some level of confidence. To that end, the only likely change to the team is the recall of the young allrounder Glenn Maxwell, whose hitting prowess could have been useful in the latter stages of the chase in game two. Australia's coach Mickey Arthur was satisfied with how the team's batsmen had attacked with conviction on Friday, David Warner in particular seeming to turn a corner in the belief he applied to his strokes.

But all that progress will be set back by another defeat, one that Pakistan will be keen to inflict and so leave Dubai with the greatest momentum possible for their tilt at the world title.

Form guide (Complete matches, most recent first)
Pakistan WWWLL 
Australia LLLWL

Watch out for
Having not batted nor bowled in the opening match, Abdul Razzaq was barely seen until the closing moments of the second, coming on cold to bowl the final over of the innings and preventing Australia - by one run - from chasing down the target. He then went out to bat with Umar Akmal as Pakistan cuffed the winning runs from the Super Over. Flushed with confidence from those efforts, Razzaq can be expected to play a more central role this time around.

With a pair of starts and a couple of reasonable spells, Shane Watson has been feeling his way back into rhythm after injury, and there were signs during game two that he was getting closer to the destructive T20 force he has been in the past. A strong display during the final match would greatly enhance Watson's belief before the trip to Sri Lanka, and there is no question that a confident and in-form Watson would make a great difference to Australia's chances when they get there.

Team news
Pakistan's coach Dav Whatmore has flagged possible changes to the team given that the series has been secured, though Shahid Afridi's inclusion will not be one of them, as he is still battling a left hand injury. Saeed Ajmal complained of left shoulder soreness after the second match but is expected to play.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Nasir Jamshed, 4 Kamran Akmal (wk), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Raza Hasan, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Saeed Ajmal

Australia have added Glenn Maxwell to the XI chosen for the second match, and he may come in for one of Cameron White, Dan Christian or David Hussey.

Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Michael Hussey, 4 David Hussey, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Cameron White/Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Mitchell Starc.

Pitch and conditions
The third match to be played on the same surface means there will be greater wear and tear, and less pace for bowlers and batsmen to work with.

Stats and trivia
A win for Pakistan would give them their second clean sweep of a T20 series against Australia, having won 2-0 in as many matches in England in 2010.
A win for Australia would take them back above Ireland on the ICC rankings table.
No batsman on either side has yet passed 50 in the series so far, Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez going closest with 45 apiece in the second match.

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