Pakistan appeared sharp in the field and, coupled with incisive bowling, seemed like a boxer that kept coming at the Aussies. -Photo by AP

Match: 2nd T20 Pakistan vs Australia (Pakistan lead the 3 match series 1-0)

Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Date & Time: Friday Sep 7th 2012, 21:00 PST / 16:00 GMT

Overall Rivalry: Leading; Pakistan 5 wins Australia 3 wins Momentum in the last five encounters: Edge; Pakistan-3 Australia-2

Weather Report: Partly cloudy in the evening but no chances of rain. Low of 31 Celsius with a heat index of 38 Celsius. It will remain hot and humid as the both teams count down their last days what were possibly the toughest conditions in recent memory.

22 Yard Report: If the first game was anything to go by, it will again be the bowlers who will make merry. The Pakistani chase though indicated that there was enough for the batters as well. The crowd at T20 matches enjoys runs in boundaries but it is the even contest between leather and willow that provides the most absorbing cricket.

Game On: Australia went into the T20 series with the confidence and momentum of the ODI series win behind them. All of that changed as T20 fast bowling ace Umar Gul trapped Shane Watson plumb in front in his first over. The Australian batsmen could never find any sort of fluency in the innings after that. They lost a wicket at every attempt made to up the ante by either finding a fielder in the deep or being outfoxed by a Pakistani bowler.

Pakistan went into bat with the combination of Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir and the in-form Nasir Jamshed was pushed down to the number 3 spot. It is quite clear that even at the age of 30, Nazir needs a stable head at the other end to keep him from jumping down the pitch every two deliveries. Therefore, Pakistan should stick to this order unless the situation demands otherwise.  The top order looked comfortable but it was Kamran Akmal’s little flurry of boundaries that was most pleasing. His form will be vital for Pakistan at the World T20 simply because he can fit into any position with ease. Pakistan looked comfortable chasing the small total of 89 and required on 15 overs. The Australian bowlers could do little against an uncharacteristically clinical performance from their opponents.

Pakistan appeared sharp in the field and, coupled with incisive bowling, seemed like a boxer that kept coming at the Aussies.  The home side took eight catches without dropping any. This included a surprise from Kamran Akmal, winning him the best catch award amidst a string of never ending $500  cash rewards.

Hafeez was decisive with his captaincy and biggest difference between him and Misbah-ul-Haq was that he kept his strike bowlers on when the Aussies were down.

Robin Jackman, while commenting on the match, perfectly summed up Pakistan’s performance by saying: “This format suits Pakistan more than any other team because it doesn’t give them enough time to self-destruct.”

Things change very fast  and just two days after winning the ODI series, the Australians find themselves with a lot to prove. The role reversal also extends out to the two new captains. Considerable pressure is mounting up on George Bailey while a relatively calm Mohammad Hafeez finds himself in a good position. Some captains crack in a situation like this but great leaders relish an opportunity to stand and deliver under the spotlight.

Pakistan will take a lot of confidence from the first game and look to keep the Aussies down in the second. However, the professional Aussie outfit is bound to bounce back and strike a counter punch in typical Australian fashion. Pakistan cannot afford to be complacent, which has happened much too often in the past, and must take the series in the second T20.

A sell out crowd is expected to come on Friday evening looking to chant “Dil Dil Pakistan” at the fall of every Australian wicket.

With large support in stadiums, a warm climate and most importantly sticky wickets, it seems apt that Pakistan plays most if not all its home series here until international cricket returns to Pakistan again.

Game Changer: So much has been said about the impact of Saeed Ajmal during this series and he has managed to live up to expectations every time. How the Australians tackle him during his four over spell will be crucial in their pursuit to level the series and stretch Pakistan into a third game final.

"I know all the boys are watching a lot of video on how to read him and how to play him differently. Kumar Sangakkara plays him a totally different way to the way the Australians play him … we are looking at that aspect of playing Ajmal," David Hussey said a few days ago and perhaps Australia will look to counter Ajmal the Sri Lanka way.

Pre-Game Talk: "Completely outplayed. The pitch was a little bit slow, but the top order need to bat for longer and score more runs, that is the name of the game in T20. We are working towards the World T20, and this is the first step towards that." Captain Bailey identified the batting failure but failed to recognize that Wednesday was actually a step backwards.

"Great team effort. Bowlers stuck to their plans, Raza Hasan showed a lot of character for a debutant." Hafeez backed the 20-year- old in the post match presentation and he could well be a good replacement for Abdur Rehman in the coming future.

Last XI Fielded Australians: George Bailey (capt), Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell Matthew Wade, David Warner, Cameron White

Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan

Possible Changes: Australia might have missed a trick by not playing Brad Hogg and could look to rectify that on Friday by potentially sacrificing a batsman and changing the balance of the team. It seemed Bailey quickly realised the importance of spin on this track and opened the bowling with a part time off-spinner Glenn Maxwell. Pakistan is most likely to field its winning combination. Unlike the first game, Abdul Razzaq will also hope to chance his arm with the ball.

Trivia: Who is the only cricketer to have scored over five hundred runs and taken over fifty wickets in T20 Internationals? (Answer will be published in the 3rd Pakistan vs Australia T20 preview)

Answer to the previous quiz: Prior to George Bailey only Dave Gregory had made his International debut as Australian captain in the very first test match of International cricket back in 1877.

Final Words: Pakistan has quickly jumped two places to fourth position in the ICC ranking leapfrogging West Indies and India in the process. Australia on the other hand now shares its number 9 spot with Ireland. These rankings will mean little when the two sides take the field on Friday and if anything the proud Australians will come out more determined than ever.

The writer grew up in a home with sports as its religion and “The Cricketer” subscription of black and white pages as holy script. He resides in Istanbul and can be reached here.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

Comments (14) Closed




ummer
Sep 06, 2012 12:40pm
Pak will surely win because they have balanced attached and all rounders
Usman
Sep 07, 2012 12:02am
The Best Team For Pakistan Could be as Follows in the same batting order: Imran Nazir Nasir Jamshed Muhammad Hafeez Asad Shafiq Umar Akmal Kamran Akmal Abdul Razzaq Shahid Afridi Sohail Tanvir Abdur Rehman/Umar Gul Saeed Ajmal In this way we would have 6 bowlers and really good hitting batsmen till number 9. Shoaib Malik Must give way to Asad who is more accomplished batsman.
ask
Sep 07, 2012 05:27am
Where do you get your statistics? According to cricinfo Umar's record from last 6 matches: DNB, 0, DNB, 52, 13, 0(Not Out), 55 (not out). Technically, Umar played only 3 ing (not out does not count) and he got one duck, 13 and 2 fifties. Not a bad record at all. Note DNB = Did not Bat
sali
Sep 07, 2012 09:08am
I think batting line up is still suspect. It can collaps under pressure. Pak must find a way to keep Asad Shafiq in the team. Shoib Malik or Razzaq could be replaced. Pak should open with Nazir and Akmal. Akmal and Nasir will play pace bowlers much better than Hafeez. Imran Nazir is a gamble like Afridi but better odds. If he comes off, we have a big score. Don't count on it but be pleased if you get it. I hope Gul and Tanvir show the same form as 1st T20.
syed ashraf agha
Sep 06, 2012 03:56pm
It is pertinent to mention that 89 was the second lowest score by the Aussies in a T20 international, also equaling the least # of boundaries (3) scored by any team in a T20 match. The Aussies hit their last boundary in the 4th over. This was also their largest loss ever in term of deliveries remaining, more than 5 overs left.
Khalid Hussaini
Sep 07, 2012 10:20am
Always say Inshaallah. Never say "surely" as you do not know what Allah wants.
Abdul Hasan
Sep 07, 2012 10:18am
George Bailey is a joke. Has Australian cricket really deteriorated that much ? It reminds me of Holioke for the english and lee germon for the kiwis ... Expected better from the Kangroo nation.
Dildar Khan
Sep 06, 2012 03:44pm
Good preview by Dawn. I hope they continue this as the cricinfo preview is very dull and boring. these previews are for Pakistani readers. Pakistan Zindabaad... Good luck Green !!
Imran
Sep 07, 2012 11:10am
Only 3 players have taken more than 50 wickets in T20i: Afridi, Ajmal and Gul. Out of these three, obviously only Afridi would have, and actually have scored more than 500 runs.
Ali
Sep 06, 2012 05:54pm
Umer Akmal should be replaced. I would like to hear his recent past performance. Being a specialist batsman, he is never deliver under pressure.
Jawwad
Sep 06, 2012 04:41pm
Answer to your trivia is Shahid Afridi. I hope you did not mean in your article that Misbah cracked under pressure and Hafeez is a great leader? And what Jack said was absolutely spot on.
Mountie
Sep 06, 2012 11:51pm
Khuda kay liay writing style hi behter ker lo
Capt C M Khan
Sep 07, 2012 07:05am
I think the selectors and Whatmore have got this combination CORRECT. They must stick o this and get in Junaid and Zia ul Huq as bench strength for the world cup. No Afridi please.
Atta Khan
Sep 06, 2012 06:53pm
I think if Pak team works hard in fielding, batting and bowling then the same team play with confidence no one inshallah can defeat them. They are natural talent especially Ajmal, new debutant Nasir Jamshed, Raza Hasan. I think Umar Gul and Sohail Tanveer were accurate. Kamran Akmal surprised us. No place for Shahid Afridi, it seems like....