Azhar-less Pakistan face off against formidable hosts Australia at Melbourne

It is increasingly becoming difficult for Pakistan to make a comeback as they went down again at the Gabba after Australia clinched another comprehensive 92-run win to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.The visitors are coming into this game without the services of their captain Azhar Ali who is sidelined due to a hamstring tear and their frontline wicket-keeper who is back home in Pakistan to attend to his ill mother. Mohammad Hafeez is set to captain the side in the absence of Azhar Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Pakistan will rue that fact that they should have done better in the first game at the Gabba as bowlers did make early inroads to see the hosts in deep trouble at 78 for 5. The bowling lacked consistency as the side leaked runs in the last ten overs to see the Australians end up with a par score on a surface that provides help to fast bowlers. The batting will be the main concern as Pakistan will be looking towards Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez to do the bulk of scoring and put up a fight to Australia in the game at Melbourne. The rest of the batting lineup looks frail and lack experience to counter such conditions.

Australia will be confident of going 2-0 up in the series at Melbourne, especially with the fact that Pakistan has a weak batting lineup in absence of bigwigs like Azhar, Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz. David Warner and Steven Smith will have to produce their best show for Australia to produce a dominant performance. Mitchell Marsh has been a mixed bag with the bat and will be out to prove his credentials as a top-notch limited overs all-rounder. James Faulkner was superb with the ball in hand taking three wickets while Cummins bowled at searing pace to take out three opposition batsmen on the night.

Australia will see Billy Stanlake be replaced by Josh Hazlewood while Asad Shafiq will come in place of injured Azhar Ali for the second game. Pakistan is yet to win a one-day game against Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground and history is heavily stacked against the visitors to make any comeback in the series.

Possible Lineup for 2nd ODI:

Australia: Steven Smith (c), Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood,

Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (c), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Aamer.


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