Pakistan will be hoping to put aside their recent series loss to Sri Lanka and get back to winning ways when they meet Australia in the opening game of the Gillette T20I series in SCG in Sydney on Sunday.
The men in green were outplayed by an inexperienced Sri Lankan side in all departments in Lahore last month and slumped to a 3-0 whitewash. Their top position in ICC T20I ranking is under threat after losing six of their seven games in the format this year.
Following the defeat to islanders, Sarfraz Ahmed was sacked as Pakistan’s T20I captain and replaced with Babar Azam.
The trip to Australia will mark the beginning of their preparations for ICC World T20, to be held in Australia in October-November next year. Their schedule in the lead up to the showpiece event is packed with T20-over cricket. After Australia, they will play bilateral series against Bangladesh, England, Ireland, and South Africa before featuring in Asia Cup.
Pakistan’s batting-line up looks balanced on paper for Australia series in the presence of the likes of Babar Azam, the world no.1 T20I batsman, Imad Wasim, and Fakhar Zaman, who all have been critical to team’s rise. They have also brought in uncapped batsmen Abid Ali and Khushdil Shah following their strong performances in the domestic season.
The bowling department also looks deadly with the comeback of giant pacer Mohammad Irfan into the national team after more than three years. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Wahab Riaz, uncapped Mohammad Musa are the other pace options in their line-up.
With Sarfraz being omitted from the squad, Mohammad Rizwan will take charge behind the stumps.
Australia, meanwhile, will head into the series just a day after securing a 3-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka in the home T20I series.
A 3-0 series win in this series will help Australia leapfrog Pakistan in ICC ranking. If that happens, and England sweeps New Zealand in their ongoing five-match T20I series, Pakistan will slip to the third position.
Pakistan have beat Australia in all of their past five T20Is; however, none of those matches featured stars like David Warner, Steven Starc and Pat Cummins.
Pakistan had last won an international series against Australia in Australia 17 years back when a Waqar Younis-led side beat the hosts in a three-match ODI series.
Aaron Finch (Captain), David Warner, Steven Smith, Ben McDermott, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa
Babar Azam (Captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Shadab Khan