Australia may have taken a 1-0 lead in this three match series but Pakistan had plenty of opportunities to win the first game.
The ‘home’ side had their visitors reeling at 67/4, chasing 198 but the Aussie middle order finally got over the line with four wickets and ten balls remaining.
Australia may well be favourites to take that unassailable 2-0 lead but if the hosts are at their best, a series leveller is very much in prospect tomorrow (Friday, August 31).
Pakistan offer good value odds but the problem is that they couldn’t force home advantages in either the batting or bowling departments. In the first match in Sharjah, the top order laid a solid platform with Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal making half centuries to leave their side with a useful foundation of 160-4.
From this point however, the lower order capitulated to some hostile bowling from Mitchell Starc (pictured) who took 5-42. Shahid Afridi will obviously be identified as the chief culprit, having slashed a wide delivery to slip first ball but from numbers seven to 11, no Pakistani batsman managed to reach double figures.
How Paddy Power Bookmaker bets to win this game:
8/11 Australia, 11/10 Pakistan.
Similar issues appeared in the bowling department with the home team relying too heavily on two men. Spinner Saeed Ajmal took the wicket of Mike Hussey first ball and was instrumental in restricting Australia to 67/4. Ajmal finished with 3-30 and he received notable support from Mohammed Hafeez with 2-29 but the remainder of the attack struggled.
The Pakistanis could, however, be boosted by the return of the experienced Umar Gul who has been on extended duty in the Sri Lankan Premier League. Gul’s reputation as being one of the best ‘death bowlers’ in World Cricket could make the difference in this second match and swing those odds back in his side’s favour.
However, Saeed Ajmal remains the biggest threat to the visitors and after the first game, Aussie skipper Michael Clarke identified the spinner as the key bowler in the contest. Clarke even conceded that it didn’t matter so much if his side didn’t score off Ajmal as they would look at surviving his armoury of mystery spin while targeting the other bowlers.
In a tight game however, this tactic could easily backfire if one bowler manages to bowl so economically, even if he isn’t taking wickets. If Pakistan are to win then they might need to be aware of their opponents’ intentions and look to keep things even tighter with the remainder of their attack.
Meanwhile, it was pace and swing that undid Pakistan in the first game and alongside Starc, James Pattinson helped to destroy the hosts with his own figures of 3-19. The home side somehow have to cope with the attack but victory is by no means beyond Misbah-ul-Haq’s men.
Pakistan v Australia ODI Betting Tips verdict
This is a talented Pakistani side and if they can bat as a team then they are more than capable of building a big enough total for Saeed Ajmal to work his magic and level this series.