Pakistan's ODI woes laid bare as high-flying Australia search for series clinching victory

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Australia have been completely on top of Pakistan so far.

Pakistan will hope a change of venue will bring some respite when they take on Australia in the third ODI at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Following two crushing losses in Sharjah at the hands of Aaron Finch and his men, Pakistan find themselves trailing 0-2 in the five-match series with no more margin for error.

As the two sides get ready for a pivotal clash, we take a look at the key talking points heading into Abu Dhabi.

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH PAKISTAN’S BOWLERS?

Granted, this is a Pakistan side missing several senior stars including Sarfraz Ahmed but the listless displays by the bowling unit in the two Sharjah defeats has thrown up some big questions.

In both matches, Australia cruised to their targets without barely breaking a sweat.

Just four wickets in the two games is a testament to Pakistan’s bowling struggles. Senior leg-spinner Yasir Shah has barely created any impact in Shadab Khan’s absence while Mohammad Amir’s ODI woes continue unabated.

Faheem Ashraf has failed to replicate his Pakistan Super League (PSL) form with Test specialist Mohammad Abbas and rookie Mohammad Hasnain the only bowlers who have impressed.

To complicate things further, Faheem has been rested for the remainder of the series as well leading the make-up of Pakistan’s bowling attack on Wednesday to anybody’s imagination.

Hasnain has been one of the rare bright spot for Pakistan's bowlers.

Hasnain has been one of the rare bright spot for Pakistan’s bowlers.

AUSTRALIA SOUND WORLD CUP WARNING

With each passing game, Australia are starting to look like real contenders for the 2019 World Cup in England which gets underway in two months. Having hit unprecedented lows in the limited-overs format last year, the Aussies were reeling in the absence of the banned David Warner and Steve Smith.

However, it has taken just under a month for Finch and his men and turn it around and how. Having bounced back heroically after trailing 0-2 to India in their own backyard, the Aussies are now dishing out the same punishment to their subcontinent neighbours.

Skipper Finch has struck back-back tons after not being able to buy a run to save his life earlier while Usman Khawaja is currently in the form of his life. Even Shaun Marsh is now scoring runs in the UAE after a disastrous Test series last year.

It is worth noting that this is a side still missing their key pacers in Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood in addition to Smith and Warner.

The five-time word champions are peaking at the right time and another series clinching win on Wednesday should have the rest of the cricketing fraternity worried.

Australia have now won five ODIs on the bounce.

Australia have now won five ODIs on the bounce.

300-BARRIER CRUCIAL FOR PAKISTAN’S HOPES

If there is one thing Pakistan have learned from their two defeats – apart from their bowling woes – it is that failure to breach the 300-run mark will always prove costly against top sides.

While they did well to recover from an early wobble in the first ODI, they were on course to post a 300 plus total in the second before somehow missing the mark. With Australia’s batsmen in such irresistible form at the moment, Pakistan are going to find it hard to win any games if they do not score at over six runs an over.

Their T20 credentials are unquestionable but the Men in Green have some work to do with their batting intent if they are to make a serious run in the World Cup in England.

If they are to finally challenge Australia with the bat in the series, the tempo will have to come from the top for Pakistan where opener Imam-ul-Haq has been off colour so far while Shan Masood has shown his ability only in patches.

Pakistan's batsmen will need to be more aggressive.

Pakistan’s batsmen will need to be more aggressive.

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