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Australia, Pakistan eye victory in winner-takes-it-all series decider

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Lahore, April 1 (IANS) With the three-match ODI series between Pakistan and Australia standing level at 1-1, both teams will want to produce some amazing performances and clinch the series in the third and final match at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Saturday.

Pakistan seem to have some momentum in hand after registering their highest successful run-chase in ODIs and ended their 10-match losing streak against Australia by winning the second ODI on Thursday. After a setback in the first match, centuries from Imam-ul-Haq (106) and Babar Azam (114) apart from 67 by Fakhar Zaman powered Pakistan to chase down 349 with an over to spare.

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The hosts will be happy that the top-order batters have been at their magnificent best, especially Imam who has now scored back-to-back hundreds in ODIs. With captain Babar contributing with a stunning masterclass in the second match, Pakistan have reasons to be confident ahead of third match.

The middle-order batters also played some handy knocks but Pakistan will be expecting more runs off Mohammad Rizwan’s bat, who hasn’t scored heavily. The hosts would also like for their bowling to put up an improved show as they have struggled to take out wickets at crucial times.

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Australia, on the other hand, aren’t much behind in producing great performances. Batting as well as the bowling, especially the spinners led by leggie Adam Zampa, have turned up at the right time to keep them in the game.

Travis Head’s promotion to the top of the order has benefitted Australia and with Ben McDermott following up his half-century in the first ODI with a maiden century in the format during the second match has given the visitors’ top-order look rock-solid throughout the series.

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Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis have done well with the bat too but the visitors would want for captain Aaron Finch to contribute with the bat.

Squads

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson and Adam Zampa.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Asif Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-Ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir.

–IANS

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