6 Takeaways From the Pakistan-Australia ODI Series
Things turn around in cricket with amazing speed. Australia, defending world champions, looked like a team in utter shambles a few months ago. The thought of them defending their title seemed ludicrous at that time.
But now, with the big event in England less than two months away, they are among the biggest favourites. Everything seems to be falling in place for the 5-time world champions. Even those minor issues which worried them before the start of the Pakistan series, have disappeared. Those players struggling for form have got their groove back.
Pakistan, on the other hand, fielded a depleted team in this series with the intent of testing new players. While things didn’t go their way, it was a danger which would have been foreseen by the Mickey Arthur-coached side. They took the risk and paid for it but if it helps them in the long term, the sacrifice of a series would be well worth it.
In the end, the 5-match series between the two teams may have produced a whitewash in favour of the Aussies, but there were many other things, apart from the result, which require our attention. Series like these, being seen primarily as a preparation for the World Cup for both teams, have much more at stake than the final scoreline.
So, while the result is visible to everyone, let us identify the various sub-plots which were part of the contest and the conclusions emerging from them. Here is a list of the most important takeaways from this series that will have a bearing on the two team’s future and World Cup chances.
#6 No Need for Pakistan to Panic
It may seem strange, but in spite of the whitewash, Pakistan don’t need to get too worried about the state of their ODI team. As stated above, going into this series, Pakistan had themselves weakened their chances of success by resting many of their key players.
The reason was understandable. Pakistan wanted to try out other players than the ones already in the side, to see if any of them can stake a better claim for a place in the World Cup squad. And to be fair, the results have been quite good in this experiment.
The form of Sarfraz Ahmed was a concern. There has been a talk about his place in the team. By bringing Mohammed Rizwan and Umar Akmal into the team, the selectors sought to identify possible replacements for him.
The two hundreds scored by Rizwan in these five matches suggests great potential. Sarfraz may get another opportunity in the series against England before the World Cup, but if he doesn’t perform, Rizwan may end up keeping wickets in the biggest ODI event.
Similarly, the performances of Haris Sohail and Abid Ali have provided two more solid options to the selectors and team management for the batting order. Ali has only played two ODIs so far and has a hundred in his debut match. But his effort would put pressure on others in the batting line-up to pull up their socks.
Considering the fact that they didn’t have the services of key players like Babar Azam, Mohammed Hafeez, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, etc., one cannot be too critical of Pakistan’s performance. Any team in the world playing with half of their first-choice players, not in the squad is bound to struggle.
Hence, their fans need not to worry too much and take heart from the fact that many encouraging performances were produced in these five games.