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Inconsistent Australia face stiff Pakistan challenge in tour-concluding T20I

Pakistan staged a resounding fightback in the ODI series, taking it 2-1 after Australia had won the Test series and white-ball opener; and a passionate home crowd now awaits the requital of the T20 World Cup semi-final defeat in the tour-ending T20I.

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After Australia's gritty 1-0 win in the Test series, Pakistan bounced back strongly in the ODIs, registering their first bilateral series win over the opponents in a staggering two decades.

And now, as the two teams gear up for the final game of the tour - the lone T20I at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium - memories of their last face-off in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final are still fresh, despite the next edition being just six-and-a-half months away.

Australia’s young, new-look squad means that only three of their winning T20 World Cup XI are available to take the field. The most experienced of the lot, skipper Aaron Finch, has another chance to rediscover his best, after having registered scores of 23, 0 and 0 in the ODI series.

Travis Head and Ben McDermott’s recent form lends plenty of positivity to the side, with Marcus Stoinis expected to shoulder additional responsibility in the middle order in absence of Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh. Adam Zampa, the sixth-ranked T20I bowler could be the x-factor against a star-studded Pakistan line-up.

The hosts’ have been in red-hot T20I form of late, having swept aside Bangladesh and West Indies 3-0 each post the T20 World Cup. Skipper Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan, the top-two ranked batters in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings form the backbone of the line-up that features seasoned power-hitters in Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah.

Shaheen Shah Afridi leads the bowling unit, to go with Haris Rauf’s raw pace and the skilled spin-bowling expertise of Shadab Khan, who could return after injury kept him out of the ODI leg. 

Pakistan v Australia

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Remember the last time

The last T20I clash between the two teams - the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 semifinal in Dubai - was an all-time classic, culminating in a thrilling finish.

Unbeaten till that point in the competition, Pakistan put up 176/4 after being put in to bat, with Rizwan (67 off 52), Zaman (55* off 32) and Babar (39 off 34) being the chief contributors.

David Warner and Mitchell Marsh got the chase going after Finch fell for a first-ball duck, before Shadab spun a web to reduce Australia to 96/5 in the 13th over, leaving 81 required off 46. Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade brought it down to 20 off 10 with some quality-ball striking, before the latter was shelled by Hasan Ali at deep midwicket to add to the drama.

Wade struck three sixes in a row to seal the deal for Australia - a blitz reminiscent of Michael Hussey’s in the 2009 edition semifinal in St. Lucia. Three days later, Australia defeated New Zealand at the same venue to lift their maiden T20 World Cup title.

Video Match Highlights 11 Nov 21
Match Highlights: Pakistan v Australia

What they said:

Babar Azam (Pakistan captain): “You need confidence after losing the first game. The credit goes to the players as they took responsibility and showed good efforts with the ball and the bat. There is pressure but you should back your game. I try to take most of the pressure and back my boys.”

Aaron Finch (Australia captain): “I thought there were a lot more positives than negatives (in the ODI series). It was just that we were on the receiving end of a couple of great knocks from Babar and Imam. It's been amazing to play here in Pakistan in front of some great fans. They've been supportive of great cricket regardless of whether it's Australia playing well or Pakistan. So we're very thankful for that."


Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Asif Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

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Afghanistan fans celebrate a boundary during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between England and Afghanistan at The Oval in London on May 27, 2019.


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