After the washout at the SCG, can the hosts Australia take a lead in game two in Canberra on Tuesday? Ed Hawkins isn't convinced.
"The squeeze will be the job of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan, who are excellent operators in the spin department. Their job will be made easier if that aforementioned pace trio can get David Warner cheaply. No guarantee"
Australia v Pakistan
Tuesday 5 November 08.10
TV: live on Sky Sports
There will be some who claim that we could not glean much from the washout in Syndey in the first game of the series. And that may be true but from where we were sitting Australia looked like the dominant force they were expected to be.
Batting first, Pakistan were heavily reliant on Babar Azam as the Australia pace attack of Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc caused problems. It is a sensational fast-bowling triumvirate which could have a significant impact on the World Cup next year. Adam Zampa we like as a spin option but Chris Green, who has been excellent in franchise cricket, deserves a run.
Australia would have won had there not been a bizarre 20 minute break between innings. This after rain had curtailed Pakistan' s innings. Had it been ten minutes Australia would have won comfortably after Aaron Finch took apart Mohammad Irfan.
Test for PSL duo
Pakistan also produced the sort of performance we expected. Their god - and ours - Babar top bat-ted with a brilliant unbeaten 59. The rest of the batters promised much but delivered little and on big Aussie grounds their lack of a lower-order power is likely to cost them (that's a big pointer for next year, too, by the way).
They remain an exciting, if quizzical, crew with the ball. As we have said before, why no Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali or Faheem Ashraf? The answer may well be: because we've got such insane fast-bowling stock that we need to test them all out.
Mohammad Amir is the rightful attack leader alongside Wahab Riaz and Irfan. The latter two are present because of Pakistan Super League performances and, I guess, by the end of the series we will have an answer as to how relevant form from that competition is at the top level.
Batters hold sway
Not much to go on here in terms of recent games at the Manuka Oval. There have only been seven stretching back to December 2017, and the oldest were women's internationals. Anyhow, the scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent) read: 165-2/181-1/103-2/189-1/68-2/178-2/152-1. Despite that irregular 68 it's fair to reckon that eight an over is going to be a minimum.
Cheeky Pak bet
Australia are [1.32] with Pakistan [4.20]. We're not keen on [1.60] favourites in T20 so it won't be a surprise that we're not advising a rush on Australia.
Instead, we can see some value on Pakistan but with a caveat. They are going to have to bat first and then put on a squeeze. It is their strongest suit and although they have trailed off after a run to the No 1 spot, they have won 14 of their last 17 defending.
The squeeze will be the job of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan, who are excellent operators in the spin department. Their job will be made easier if that aforementioned pace trio can get David Warner cheaply. No guarantee. That's why they're so big.
The way Finch took 26 off an Irfan over suggested Australia's batting might not be dominated by Warner for much longer. Finch, who used to be Mr Reliable for top Aussie bat, has been put in the shade somewhat and goes off at 23/10 with Sportsbook. Warner is 9/4.
For Pakistan, Babar's 55% win rate on two-year data makes Sportsbook's 2/1 a valiant effort at a right price. But not short enough. There's no-one who can touch him, really, particularly as three of Fakhar Zaman's five wins over the same study period came when Babar was out of the team.
Back Pakistan bat first [4.2] (1pt)