On a possibly pacy Perth wicket, which bowler will prove to be most dangerous early on Friday? Ed Hawkins finds out.
"Stanlake is the black mark against the bet, particularly as the 7/2 is a whopper by comparison. Bizarrely, though, Stanlake might not play with Australia rumoured to prefer Sean Abbott"
The top Australia bowler market has been befuddling all series, not least because there is not a study sample big enough to base an opinion on. That's because Australia have chopped and changed their attack over the last couple of years, using no fewer than nine different quicks.
And just as they get a settled line-up, they decide to change again. Pat Cummins, who has formed an excellent partnership with Kane Richardson and Mitchell Starc, has been left out to give him a rest ahead of the forthcoming Test series.
In truth, Australia have an embarrassment of riches in the pace department and, although the coach Justin Langer would never even think such a thing, it's rather handy to have injuries to key performers because it makes the job easier to select a unit. Consider that AJ Tye, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson would waltz into most international XIs and their strength in depth is remarkable.
With Cummins missing, is there some value in Starc taking top bowler honours at 11/4, considering his absent team-mate is still listed (3/1)? In his T20 international career Starc has a strike rate of a wicket every 16.6 balls. Among fellow Aussies who have taken 10 wickets or more and are still playing there are only two who a more potent: Tye with 14.8 and Billy Stanlake at 14.6.
Stanlake is the black mark against the bet, particularly as the 7/2 is a whopper by comparison. Bizarrely, though, Stanlake might not play with Australia rumoured to prefer Sean Abbott. Abbott would surely muddy the waters further (becoming pacer No 10) when trying to work out their best XI. Stanlake, over his entire T20 career has a strike rate of 18 and boasts a four-wicket haul against Pakistan in a tri-series (also including Zimbabwe) last year. Starc's entire career strike rate is a remarkable 14.6.
Amir versus Shadab
There may be more clarity on the top Pakistan bowler market. Mohammad Amir has been underrated a touch by Sportsbook who go 3/1 when the data suggests he should be more like 5/2.
True, the 14-game study sample is a little shy of what we'd like but Amir's appeal in T20 is strengthened, oddly, by his poor returns in one-day internationals. This is very much his strongest format.
Amir pips Shadab Khan 0.1 on strike rate on their respective careers. Only Shaheen Shah Afridi, left at home, is more dangerous. On two year-form, Amir takes a wicket every 15.3 compared to Shadab's 18.6.
On a Perth wicket which favours pacers over spinners, Amir should be bang at it. Nor are we concerned that fast bouncy wicket might go against his style. It is wrong to reckon that he is purely a swing bowler and he has added changes of variation and cutters to ensure he is not a one-trick pony in this format. Indeed, you can't run in and do one thing in T20 and have his sort of record.
Pakistan top bowler wins/matches last two years
Amir 4 4t/14
Ashraf 2 t/23
Shadab 4 3t/25
Imad 1 3t/14
Shoaib Malik t/18
Hasan 1 3t/18
Shinwari 1 t/10
Afridi 2 3t/10