Sunday, April 26, 2009

Change of scenery will decide tight series

Pakistan will look to Salman Butt for a strong platform in Abu Dhabi.

Match facts

April 27, 2009
Start time 3pm (11.00GMT)

Big Picture
A committed Australia hit back to level the series on Friday and show they would not be swept aside by Pakistan's crafty spin. While Shahid Afridi starred again with both disciplines, the performance of Andrew Symonds, who struck a half-century and two blows with the ball, gave Michael Clarke's team a big boost after the allrounder's troubles on and off the field over the past year.

After Symonds' innings the Australians were able to cruise to an important victory by six wickets, which moved them alongside their opponents, who were more professional in the opening match in Dubai on Wednesday. Abu Dhabi hosts the final three encounters of the tight series that is testing the progress of both sides as they peer towards the World Twenty20 in June.

Form guide (last five ODIs, most recent first)
Pakistan LWLLW
Australia WLWLL

Watch out for
Andrew Symonds displayed good form with the bat for the first time in a long time during his 58 on Friday, an innings which was a relief to him and his supporters. More strong showings in the final three games will help seal his passage to England.

Salman Butt was lucky to survive after his awful mix-up with Ahmed Shehzad in the third over on Friday, but he stayed calm following his reprieve and moved to a useful half-century. With Pakistan's batting not going as well as their bowling, Butt has an important job at the top of the order in setting up the side for a match-winning total.

Team news
Clarke called Australia's performance on Friday "brilliant" so don't expect too many changes to the line-up. James Hopes fitted in well at opener and Doug Bollinger was tight in his maiden ODI. Stuart Clark and Ben Hilfenhaus are also in the squad so one of them may come in for the young Ben Laughlin.

Australia (possible) 1 Brad Haddin (wk), 2 James Hopes, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Andrew Symonds, 6 Callum Ferguson, 7 David Hussey, 8 Nathan Hauritz, 9 Stuart Clark, 10 Nathan Bracken, 11 Doug Bollinger.

Pakistan's batting continued to contain rust on Friday as they were dismissed in the 47th over and some tinkering to the line-up could occur. Shehzad, the 17-year-old opener, will be keen for another chance after his unfortunate run-out for 4 on debut.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Salman Butt, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Younis Khan (capt), 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Umar Gul, 9 Shoaib Akhtar, 10 Iftikhar Anjum, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

Pitch and conditions
Abu Dhabi is about 125km south-west of Dubai and its ground is the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. The forecast for Monday is a warm, clear day with a maximum of 37C.

Stats and Trivia

* Symonds' half-century on Friday was only his fourth in state and international cricket since the beginning of 2008-09
* Afridi picked up his 250th ODI wicket in Dubai and has eight victims in two matches
* Australia's win in game two took their record for the year to six wins in 17 matches

"Now we've had a win and hopefully we can start getting a bit of a roll on from here. We've spoken about the amount of games we've failed to win in the last little bit, so hopefully from here we can continue to improve. We've got things we can work on but [Friday] was not a bad effort from us."
Andrew Symonds

"We knew that Australia would come down hard on us, they were our fears."
Younis Khan