Australia, after clinching the ODI series 2-1 against Pakistan, will now set their sights on the three-match Twenty20 series starting on Wednesday. Both the teams, especially Australia, are taking this as a practice series ahead of the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in September.
It has been a challenging tour for Australia considering the hot and humid conditions in Sharjah, but they adapted and performed well. They aren't the clear favourite going by their No. 9 ranking in the format, but would very much like to turn this around and prove their detractors wrong.
Both teams are balanced in every department, especially with the comeback of some key players. For Pakistan, Mohammad Hafeez will be opening the innings and could be partnered by Imran Nazir or Nasir Jamshed. Moreover, their batting goes deep with the return of Abdur Razzaq and preceded by Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Azad Shafiq and Kamran Akmal in the middle order.
The pace-bowling attack will be taken care of by Umar Gul, who would like to make an impact after being ignored for the one-dayers. However, for the second pacer spot there would be a tussle between Mohammad Sami and Sohail Tanvir. In recent times there has been a change in the trend, as spin bowling is winning matches for Pakistan. Saeed Ajmal would be leading the pack and ably supported by Afridi and Hafeez.
On the other hand, Australia might go into the series as underdogs, but they have few match-winners in their squad. With the return of Shane Watson, their batting and bowling gets a fillip. Watson, who makes a return to the team after a calf injury would join forces with David Warner at the top of batting order. Both the Hussey brothers and George Bailey give stability to the middle order, moreover Glenn Maxwell in the third ODI has shown what he is capable of.
In spinner friendly conditions, young pacer Mitchell Starc has been the find for Australia. But there are doubts with the fitness of Pat Cummins and Ben Hilfenaus might get the nod. The star attraction would be the 41-year-old Brad Hogg, who with his experience can prove to be a big plus.
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 2 Imran Nazir/Nasir Jamshed, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Kamran Akmal, 8 Abdur Razzaq, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Sohail Tanvir/Mohammad Sami
Australia: 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 George Bailey, 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Michael Wade, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Pat Cummins/Ben Hilfenaus