Pakistan v Australia, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi September 1, 2012

Openers and Starc worry Australia

A malfunctioning top order and an injury to Mitchell Starc are Australia's major worries after a hefty defeat to Pakistan in the second ODI in Abu Dhabi. Matthew Wade was dismissed cheaply and David Warner scratched around ineffectually as the tourists slipped to 87 for 4, having been 67 for 4 in the first match of the series in Sharjah.

Starc complained of a side/chest injury when Australia were in the field, and is now an unlikely starter for the series-deciding match in Sharjah. His absence would likely mean an ODI debut for Alister McDermott.

Irrespective of who bowls for Australia in the final match, they will be hoping to be given a greater start by Wade and Warner, though the captain Michael Clarke also put himself in line for blame after making a trio of starts in three matches in the UAE without once going on to a century.

"It's disappointing I think as a top four batter, a big part of your role is to go on and make hundreds, make big scores and I've been as much to blame as anyone," Clarke said. "I've got three starts now and haven't been able to go on, so it's an area I need to continue to work on, and our top order needs to do so.

"We've got to have a better foundation than what we did today, with our top three putting their hands up to bat deeper through the innings, to allow our tail to play with more freedom."

There was very little freedom evident in Warner's game in particular, as he puzzled over 68 balls to make 24 before succumbing to Saeed Ajmal's beguiling spin. Clarke acknowledged that his opening batsman had looked out of sorts, but credited Pakistan for forcing Warner onto the defensive.

"You probably have to ask David that," Clarke said in response to a question about how circumspect Warner had seemed. "I think he found it quite difficult to score, and full credit to Pakistan, I thought they played really well today, they bowled really well upfront then they came out and played really well with the bat, so I don't want to take anything away from Pakistan, they outplayed us."

Clarke said he had been wrong-footed at the toss by the fact that the team's match eve training had revealed far less dew on the ground than would become evident when Australia tried to defend their target. The bowlers gave up 20 wides and struggled to grip the ball as Pakistan waltzed to victory.

"We trained here late last night and there was nowhere near that much dew, so it was certainly a surprise for all of us once we walked out to field today," Clarke said. "So it was the wrong decision after winning the toss to bat first.

"We were off today, we didn't play as well as we'd have liked, no doubt about that, but two days ago we beat Pakistan in the first one-dayer in conditions we're about to go back and play in, so we can take a lot of confidence out of that."

Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq acknowledged that the dew had helped his side. "It was a good toss to lose," he said. "Both the teams were not sure about what was going to happen because yesterday there wasn't so much dew. But today dew was a major factor."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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