It’s been a sorry tour for Pakistan, but they at least have one more chance to save face against Australia in the UAE.
They are staring at a 5-0 whitewash, but the men in green did show real signs of life in Dubai on Friday before their unthinkable collapse with 10 overs to go.
They have made one change, with Mohammad Abbas coming in for teenage seamer Mohammad Hasnain, while Australia also mix up their pace ranks as Jason Behrendorff replaces Nathan Coulter-Nile.
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The Men in Green have been thoroughly outclassed by the resurgent Aussies so far and find themselves trailing 0-4 after four defeats in as many matches in the UAE.
AUSTRALIA CHASE HISTORY
Should they complete a whitewash over Pakistan on Sunday, it will be only the third time in their history that the Aussies have captured an ODI series by 5-0 away from home.
They haven’t managed to repeat the feat overseas in over a decade now and that should be added motivation for Aaron Finch and his men. To beat both India and Pakistan away from home in succession would be some feat by the Aussie contingent given their struggles in 2018 where they lost 11 of their 13 ODIs.
“It’s an exciting proposition for us,” swashbuckling Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell had stated after the narrow win in the fourth ODI.
That’s all the motivation you need – to have a clean sweep in a foreign country after we haven’t had a lot of success over the last 12 months. It’d be great for this group to win 5-0.
“I feel like we’ve played some extremely good cricket,” Added Maxwell. “We’ve adapted brilliantly to different conditions and everyone’s chipped in at different times. It’s been a really good team effort the whole time over here. One more big effort for us over here and blokes can take their holidays.”
FEW POSITIVES FOR PAKISTAN AMIDST SHAMBLES
Having taken the decision to rest several senior stars including skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, the five-match series way always going to be an opportunity for Pakistan to test their bench strength and various combinations ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
However, they still wouldn’t have expected to see the lack of fight they have displayed over the course of the series. The defeat in the fourth ODI was a bitter pill to swallow for the hosts with Imad Wasim and his men conspiring to thrown away a winning position.
To add insult to injury, Pakistan and stand-in skipper Imad have been now fined by the ICC for their slow over-rates.
Amid all the doom and gloom for Pakistan, there have been a few bright spots to celebrate, most importantly the form of Mohammad Rizwan. The wicketkeeper-batsman has made the most of Sarfraz’s absence by registering two tons in the four matches so far and has done no harm in pushing his case for a World Cup squad inclusion.
The other positive has been 31-year-old Abid Ali who became only the third Pakistan batsman to score a century on his debut ODI in Dubai on Friday.
LAST CHANCE SALOON FOR UMAR AKMAL
After being handed a recall to the Pakistan ODI side based on his recent displays for 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Quetta Gladiators, it was a chance for Umar Akmal to stake his claim for a World Cup spot.
However, the familiar vulnerabilities have resurfaced once again for the younger Akmal brother who has failed to really create the impact he so desperately would have craved.
The right-hander has been unable to register a single half-century in his four innings with the 48 in the first ODI being his highest contribution. However, it was the manner of his dismissal in the fourth ODI that has left a sour taste in the mouth with Umar perishing to wild heave across the line.
The dramatic Pakistan collapse that followed will have thrown further question marks over Umar’s comeback credentials.
Imad Wasim "If you are not learning after playing so much cricket, can't do anything about that" #PAKvAUS— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) March 29, 2019
“If you are not learning after playing so much cricket, you can’t do anything about it,” skipper Imad had said after the fourth ODI.
While that statement could have been directed towards the Pakistan team a whole, it did look like a thinly veiled barb at Umar.
Can the right-hander summon one big innings in the final ODI to change the narrative?
With a World Cup and a home Ashes series to come this summer, the county will still have to cede to international demands on the 27-year-old, currently ranked the fourth best all-rounder in Test cricket, but him tying down until 2021 is an important move.
“I love playing for Durham and am delighted to be signing a new long-term deal at the county where I learnt my trade,” Stokes said.
“I’m very passionate about helping Durham compete at the top level and if I am given any opportunities to play this season, I will give everything to the club.
“It’s an exciting time at Durham, especially with the rebrand of the club this winter and having a new coach, chief executive and director of cricket in charge.”
Durham are understandably delighted to have secured Stokes on a new contract.
“He is now in the prime of his career and while we may not see him as much as we would like over the next year, his influence remains huge around the club,” said chief executive Tim Bostock.
“Ben is a shining example of what our young players can achieve with hard work and dedication to go alongside talent.”
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