Pakistan v Australia: Amir, Shah's bowling form a concern ahead of second ODI in Sharjah

Waseem Ahmed 18:53 23/03/2019
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Mohammad Amir went wicketless in the first ODI.

Pakistan were handed a reality check by a resurgent Australia in the first ODI in Sharjah, with the men in gold cruising to an eight-wicket win chasing 281.

Captain Aaron Finch took his improving form from India to the UAE as he cracked a fluent 116 and got excellent support from Shaun Marsh, who remained unbeaten on 91.

The ease with which Australia chased down the runs on a flat Sharjah wicket under lights showed the remarkable improvement in their 50-over game and also exposed the cracks in Pakistan’s ODI armour in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Ahead of the second ODI between the two sides in Sharjah on Sunday, we take a look at the main talking points.

AMIR AND SHAH WOES

Pakistan’s bowlers failed to make any sort of impact as the Aussies cruised to the second highest successful run-chase in Sharjah. Left-arm pacer Amir has been struggling in 50-over cricket for some time and his effort in the opening clash was an extension of that trend. Amir went wicketless in his nine overs that went for 59 runs. The left-armer has now gone wicketkless in seven of his last 10 ODIs, which is poor for any regular bowler, let alone a  new-ball pacer.

Leg-spinner Shah’s spot in the 50-over set-up was anyhow under the scanner and his figures of 0-56 in 10 overs will do little to convince fans or selectors of his World Cup credentials. With veteran seamer Mohammad Abbas also in the bowling plans as of now, Pakistan’s attack has a bit of a Test match feel to it.

RING IN THE CHANGES? 

Mohammad Hasnain. Image: PSL/Twitter.

Mohammad Hasnain. Image: PSL/Twitter.

Pakistan’s batting was decent. Opener Shan Masood took his time to score 40 while Haris Sohail held the innings together during his 101. However, the charge from lower-order batsmen Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim (28 each) came a bit late and maybe the top order batsmen should have accelerated earlier.

However, it’s the bowling that needs a closer look. With a proven wicket taker like left-arm quick Junaid Khan and young up and coming tearaway pacer Mohammad Hasnain in the side, captain Shoaib Malik might be inclined to to bring in one of the two. Amir has already been dropped before and whether or not he features in the second match, the pacer needs a big number in the wickets column very soon.

AUSTRALIA IN CRUISE CONTROL

Finch and his team-mates must be over the moon. They have now won four matches in a row – three in India after being 2-0 down and one in the UAE. In all these matches, the Australians looked in control for large parts, which is even better news as the World Cup nears.

For the visitors, the control provided by 20 overs of spinners Nathan Lyon (1-38) and Adam Zampa (0-44) was the most pleasing aspect as that put a brake on the scoring in the middle overs and kept the target within reach.

Finch himself was in deep trouble during the home series against India, with a technical flaw in his front-foot play brutally exposed. However, he has overcome that issue and is back among the runs, which means Australia are beginning to cover every base.

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