Pakistan bowl first against depleted Australia, rest Shaheen after heavy workload


Hosts hand ODI debuts to Mahmood and Wasim; Swepson and Ellis debutants for Australia

Pakistanchose to bowl vs Australia

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bowl against a shorthanded Australia in the series-opening ODI in Lahore, as both teams return to the 50-over format after lengthy absences.

Missing a host of stars from their historic Test series victory, Australia have been further depleted after spinner Ashton Agar and wicketkeeper-batter Josh Inglis tested positive for Covid-19. Team physiotherapist Brendan Wilson has also tested positive, but other players and staff returned negative tests.

With just 13 players to choose from, Australia have handed debuts to quick Nathan Ellis and legspinner Mitchell Swepson, who played in the second and third Tests in Pakistan after five years on the fringes of the national squad.

With regular batters David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell unavailable, Travis Head has been named to open, with BBL MVP Ben McDermott to bat at No.3. Marnus Labuschagne and emerging allrounder Cameron Green, who has played just one ODI, have opportunities to impress.

Favourites Pakistan also boast new faces with 34-year-old legspinner Zahid Mahmood and young quick Mohammad Wasim Jnr making their ODI debuts. But star quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has been rested after a heavy workload during the Test series.

Much like the series-deciding third Test, the pitch is expected to be flat and favour batting amid stifling heat but might offer reverse swing in dewy conditions.

While the white-ball leg of the tour, which comprises two further ODIs and a one-off T20 entirely played in Lahore, is somewhat low-key, there is a lot on the line for both teams who are relatively lowly placed in the World Cup Super League, having played a limited number of 50-over matches.

Australia have won their three series played during the cycle but are seventh after playing just six matches – the last being against West Indies in July. Pakistan are also desperate to make up ground, sitting 10th after a 3-0 defeat to England in the UK last July in their last ODI hitout.

Australia swept Pakistan in a three-match ODI series on their last tour of Pakistan in 1998, capped by a famous rundown of 316 in the series-finale in Lahore in the then second-highest successful chase in history.

Australia: 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Travis Head 3 Ben McDermott, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Marcus Stoinis 6 Cameron Green 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Natham Ellis, 10 Adam Zampa 11 Mitchell Swepson

Pakistan: 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Imam-ul-Haq, 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Khushdil Shah, 8 Hasan Ali, 9 Mohammad Wasim Jnr, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Zahid Mahmood

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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