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August 31, 2012
So in a familiar location, Pakistan find themselves in a familiar situation - behind against Australia, and needing a victory to keep the series alive. Having not beaten the Australians in an ODI series since 2002, there remains a sense of self-doubt about the way Pakistan confront these opponents. Their sage captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, diagnosed an inability to "read the match situation well", after the lower order had folded to offer Michael Clarke's team a sub-prime target in Sharjah.
This was true, but so too is the fact that no-one on either side knows a reality other than that in which Australia defeats Pakistan repeatedly. Clarke has a singularly dominant record against Pakistan, and by contrast many of the subcontinental side's more seasoned players have a gap in their records when it comes to Australia. Even with the disadvantages of conditions and time zones, Australia play with a level of confidence against Pakistan derived from the belief that composure will win out over talent and impetuosity, as well as Misbah has done to stabilise the moods of his team.
In Abu Dhabi the Pakistanis will need to overcome this mental hurdle as much as anything else if they are to take the series to a third match. For Clarke's Australians, their obstacle is that of consistency - the accumulation of winning sequences has been a rare thing indeed in 2012. Not once has the team won more than two limited overs matches in a row, and victory in this match would make a hat-trick after the defeat of Afghanistan in the tour opener.
Form guide (Complete matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Among Pakistan players, the contrast between the overall record and that against Australia does not come much more stark than that of Mohammad Hafeez. His ascent to the top of the ICC's rankings in numerous disciplines and formats may have surprised several of the Australians, given that as a batsman he has never passed 13 against them. While Hafeez did excel with the ball in Sharjah, it is as a top order batsman that Pakistan will need him to lift in Abu Dhabi.
David Warner did little to dissuade critics of his play against quality spin during game one, struggling for rhythm against Hafeez and then throwing his innings away with a panicked slog. Abu Dhabi's surface is likely to offer Warner a little more pace onto the bat, which should help his array of strokes. Australia's chances of a total that is handsome and not merely sturdy depend greatly on Warner's capacity to provide momentum at the top.
Following Australia's travails against spin in the first match, Pakistan can be expected to call in the left-arm spin of Abdur Rehman, perhaps at the expense of Aizaz Cheema, who struggled for impact as the second seamer.
Pakistan (squad) Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Aizaz Cheema, Saeed Ajmal, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Abdur Rehman, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali
Xavier Doherty will be hopeful of a recall to the Australian XI, but the success of a deep batting line-up and the use of part-time spinners in the opening match may mean Clarke sticks with the combination that gave him a 1-0 series lead.
Australia (possible) 1 Matthew Wade (wk), 2 David Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 George Bailey, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 James Pattinson
Pitch and conditions
Abu Dhabi's surface is known to offer more pace than those of Sharjah or Dubai, but with the temperature forecast to touch 44C during the day there is unlikely to be much moisture to be found in the surface.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We committed mistakes, mistakes we have been repeating in the last two or three series but we can't win matches if we continue to do that."
"There's enough there for both fast bowlers and spin [on the Abu Dhabi pitch]. I'd love to see somebody in our top four go on and make a big score, make a hundred. I've got two starts and I haven't been able to go on. I think heat is certainly a factor."
Australia's captain Michael Clarke wants to see his batsmen go on from their starts
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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