Pakistan and Australia go into the three-ODI series decider at Sharjah on Monday. The rubber is presently tied at 1-1.
After losing the first ODI without any real fight, the Pakistanis, under Misbah-ul-Haq, bounced back in tremendous style as they thumped the Kangaroos by 7 wickets in the second game on Friday.
Misbah's men will go into the match as favourites largely because of the presence of offspinner Saeed Ajmal among them. Ajmal (4 for 32) was instrumental in restricting the Aussies to 248 for 9 on a fairly batting-friendly wicket. The Aussies are traditionally not great against slow bowlers and that puts the hosts in the driver's seat.
The momentum is with Pakistan but it\'s hard to pick a winner owing to both teams\' inconsistency so far.
Also, the outcome of the match will depend on the toss a great deal. The nights are pretty dewy in the United Arab of Emirates and the team batting second gets a raw deal of it. Aussie captain Michael Clarke made a grave mistake in the last match when he opted to bat after winning the toss.
"We trained here and there was nowhere near that much dew, so it was certainly a surprise for all of us once we walked out to field. So it was the wrong decision after winning the toss to bat first," Clarke said in the wake of the match.
Pakistan will also take a lot of heart from their batting in the previous match. In the series opener, they had witnessed a dramatic collapse, losing their last six wickets for just 38, consequently failing to touch the 200-run mark. Chasing 249 to win on Friday, they however looked a different batting unit and got over the line with 37 balls to go. The number of remaining balls tells a great deal about their dominance.
As far as squads are concerned, Pakistan are waiting on the fitness of allrounder Shahid Afridi, who missed Friday's game because of a back injury, while Australian paceman Starc has complained of a chest injury and is an unlikely starter for the series-deciding match.
Misbah hopes his team builds on Friday's win. "It depends on what sort of wicket we get and one more thing we have to keep in mind is that if we bowl second then there will be problem for the spinners as well, so we need to build on the win."
As of now, the momentum is surely with Pakistan but it's hard to pick a favourite owing to both teams' inconsistency in the series so far.
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Umar Akmal 6 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman/Shahid Afridi, 9 Sohail Tanveer, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 George Bailey, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Mitchell Starc/Xavier Doherty, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 James Pattinson