With the infamous ball-tampering saga still hanging like a dark cloud above Australian cricket, coach Justin Langer has promised to put the smiles back on when his side take on South Africa in the ODI series.
Smith, along with his deputy David Warner, was handed a one-year ban from international and domestic cricket by Cricket Australia while Cameron Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension.
But looking ahead to the five-match series against the same opponents, Australia coach Langer was hoping to change some of the mood.
“It’s sad, isn’t it. Everyone seems to be at each other. There’s lots of criticism,” he said of the atmosphere surrounding Australian cricket,” Langer said.
“What we can do is we can prepare well, we can play good cricket, and be entertaining and put on a good show so Australians can start smiling a bit.
“One thing sport can do and the Australian cricket can do is put smiles on faces rather than everyone throwing stones at each other.”
On the other hand, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis expects the verbal sledging to be toned down a notch when the two sides meet again.
“An Australia-South Africa series is always going to be competitive but I do suspect this series will be a little bit more toned down, especially from the Australian side,” he said.
“Not necessarily from a body language point of view, but maybe from a verbal point of view.”
Though the hosts will miss Smith and Warner, Proteas skipper Du Plessis still expects it to be a tough test.
“Whenever you get a chance to play against Australia it feels like you’re playing against a very good cricket team. When you look at what they’ve got in their squad at the moment on paper there are some fantastic names there with the ball and with the bat,” he said.
The first ODI between the two sides will get underway at Perth on Sunday.
The left-armed pacer was dropped from the T20 and Test sides following his dismal showing in the Asia Cup and has now been overlooked in the one-day format too.
While Amir has missed out, another left-armed quick in Junaid Khan has been recalled to the side after missing out on the series against Australia.
Opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has returned to the squad after recovering from the finger injury he sustained in the Test series against Australia. The left-hander underwent a successful surgery on his finger before making a return to competitive cricket on Friday in the Quaid-e-Azam One-Day Trophy semi-final.
15 member ODI squad announced for three-match ODI series against New Zealand . https://t.co/hpxUznzdNp— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) November 2, 2018
There was also good news for Pakistan veteran Mohammad Hafeez, who made his way back into the ODI outfit. Imad Wasim’s excellent displays in the T20 series win over Australia has seen him make a return to the ODI side after more than a year out.
There were not many other surprises in the Sarfraz Ahmed-led squad with 18-year-old pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi retaining his place after his impressive showing in the ongoing T20 series against the Kiwis.
The first two ODIs between the two sides will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 7 and 9 with the final clash taking place in Dubai on November 11.
PAKISTAN 15-MAN ODI SQUAD
Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Hassan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Khan Shinwari.
Having fallen short by two runs in the opening T20, the Blackcaps once again ran Pakistan close in the second match before Sarfraz Ahmed’s men cliched victory with two balls to spare.
“I think we have all seen the nature of playing in the UAE, it is a style of cricket and it is something we have worked very hard on. We have done that to a certain extent. We are playing Pakistan who are a very good side, especially in T20 cricket with their knowledge of the home conditions and how clinical they are,” Williamson said after the game.
“I think it is important that we take little lessons. We are playing good cricket and we need to make those small steps. We need to be a little better with the bat, little bit more clinical in certain areas. There are still margins, that’s important when we look at the positives which are plenty,” he continued.
It was the 11th successive T20 series win for the men in green and the Kiwi skipper insisted that their opponents were fully deserving of their No1 crown in the format.
“Yeah they have been outstanding for a long period of time and the ratings are fair. They are No1 so it is good. They are very very clinical over here in these conditions. They have been very consistent. Its upon us to improve and make those small steps,” Williamson explained.
While the series might have slipped out of New Zealand’s grasp with one match still to play, Williamson maintained that his men will look at every opportunity to improve themselves.
“For us, it is about improving. Its small improvements. It’s a shame it will not define the series but at the same time, as a cricket team, it is always about improving and becoming a better side. Each game we play is an opportunity,” he said.
All-rounder Corey Anderson struck an unbeaten 25-ball 44 to help the Kiwis post 153-7 in their innings. Having made his return to international cricket after almost a year out with injury, Anderson’s display came as a huge positive for Williamson.
“He played really nicely tonight, a really good hand. Throughout the batting innings, you have various stages on this surface and it has been pretty clear for both sides. It was fantastic that he could play the way he did to give us what we thought was a very good first innings total,” Williamson said.
Another positive for the Blackcaps skipper was Colin Munro who continued to show his excellent form with a quick-fire 44 at the top of the innings.
“Colin’s been hitting the ball beautifully and got us off to two good starts in the two games which is really important in these conditions. He has been hitting beautifully and batting great. Let’s hope that continues. Once again, small frustrations but a lot of positives to take for the team.”
Williamson and his men will now hope they can end the series on a high when they take on Pakistan in the final T20 at Dubai on Sunday.