Lahore, March 29 (IANS) The Babar Azam-led Pakistan will look to avenge their 1-0 Test series defeat to Australia when the two teams clash in the first of the three One-day Internationals at the Gaddafi Stadium here later on Tuesday.
Crucial ICC Cricket World Cup Super League (CWCSL) points are at stake in the series, and Pakistan, currently 10th with 40 points, will look to move up the table. They have a great chance to do so as Australia will be fielding a depleted side in the absence of pace-bowling stalwarts such as Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood and batting mainstays David Warner and Steve Smith.
On the other hand, Australia are seventh on the table with 60 points but the odds are stacked against them as Pakistan will be at full strength. The hosts will be looking at the ICC ODI Player of the Year and captain Babar Azam to lead the way.
Besides, the Aaron Finch-led Australia are coming into the series after a long layoff from ODIs — they last played West Indies in July 2021.
They will also be without limited-overs specialist Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh, who was ruled out of the opening ODI due to injury. In their absence, Australia will expect senior players such as Finch and Marcus Stoinis to step up in the crucial series.
The last time the two sides faced off in the bilateral series was in March 2019, when Australia defeated Pakistan 5-0 in the UAE. Barring the last two matches, which were close, the visitors registered convincing victories in the rest of the games. Finch led the way with 451 runs in the five games.
The two sides then clashed in the 2019 ICC Men’s World Cup in Taunton. On the back of Warner’s ton, Australia posted a massive total of 307. Despite the lower-order resistance, Pakistan fell short in their chase and were bowled out for 266.
“It’s a great opportunity for guys to put their hands up and really build a case for their long-term spot in the squad. The excitement of having a younger side is huge, as well. It’s about guys taking their opportunities when they present themselves. There’s going to be difficult times throughout the series, but really excited for these guys to get an opportunity,” Finch was quoted as saying by ICC ahead of the match.