New captains target winning start
Match factsOctober 5, Dubai
Start time 2000 local (1600 GMT)
A one-off Twenty20 match might have some relevance in the lead-up to the World T20, but with the next world tournament not scheduled until 2016, this is a game with little riding on it. Still, with a one-day series to follow and then Tests between the two countries, it is a chance for either Pakistan or Australia to begin their tour on a positive note. And both teams will be led by new captains, providing a chance for a regeneration of sorts after neither side made it past the group stage of the World T20 in Bangladesh earlier this year.
The resignation of Mohammad Hafeez has allowed Shahid Afridi to regain charge of Pakistan, having last led their T20 side in 2011, while Aaron Finch is taking over from George Bailey as captain of Australia. There have also been plenty of changes for both teams from the World T20 squads, and most notably Pakistan will sorely miss offspinner Saeed Ajmal, who is the leading wicket taker in T20 international history but has been banned from bowling due to an illegal action. In 11 T20s against Australia, Ajmal has taken 19 wickets at 14.26.
Australia's squad has been compromised by the priority given to the Champions League T20 final, with Pat Cummins still in India instead of having the chance to play his first international for two years. There could be as many as five debutants in Australia's outfit as they search not only for a team that can take them through to the next World T20, but more immediately and practically, for 11 fit players.
In the spotlight
Raza Hasan took 2 for 15 off four overs on his T20 international debut against Australia at this venue two years ago. However, he has not played for his country since October 2012 and now faces the prospect of playing as the frontline spinner instead of support act to Ajmal. It is a wonderful opportunity for Hasan, but equally, the expectations on him will be great.
Australia's long list of post-Warne spinners in Test cricket has been well documented, but the catalogue of T20 tweakers used is also growing rapidly. In the past two years alone, Xavier Doherty, Fawad Ahmed, Brad Hogg and James Muirhead have been used as frontline spinners, with Glenn Maxwell the slow-bowling allrounder. Now, Cameron Boyce will be added to the list. The legspinner will make his debut after his Hobart Hurricanes failed to reach the CLT20 final, and it is a big opportunity for Boyce. The previous captain George Bailey said on his departure that finding a world class T20 spinner was the one thing that over the next couple of years could lift Australia to the elite level in the short format.
A shake-up to Pakistan's T20 squad could mean barely half the men who played in their most recent game will feature in this match. Awais Zia and Raza Hasan look set to make their first T20 appearances in more than two years, while Wahab Riaz is back in the squad having not played a T20 international since April 2011. The loss of Mohammad Hafeez to a hand injury sustained at training is a blow.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Ahmed Shahzad, 2 Awais Zia, 3 Umar Amin, 4 Umar Akmal (wk), 5 Shahid Afridi, 6 Sohaib Maqsood, 7 Bilawal Bhatti, 8 Raza Hasan, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Mohammad Irfan.
Australia named a 13-man squad for this match, but have only 10 men from that group available. Shane Watson was withdrawn due to his calf injury, Mitchell Marsh is sidelined with a hamstring problem and Pat Cummins is still in India with Kolkata Knight Riders for the Champions League final. It has forced the selectors to add Phillip Hughes, Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe to the squad from the ODI and Test groups. Allrounder Sean Abbott, legspinner Cameron Boyce and fast bowler Kane Richardson are all likely to make their debuts.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 David Warner, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Steven Smith, 6 Brad Haddin (wk), 7 James Faulkner, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Cameron Boyce.
Pitch and conditions
Australian Tony Hemming, the curator of the Dubai ground, has already foreshadowed some reasonable pace and bounce for the Test at the venue, so there may not be as much spin in this T20 as might have been expected. The forecast for Sunday is 37C, although the temperature should drop to the lower 30s by the time the game starts.
Stats and trivia
- Australia have beaten Pakistan only four times from 12 meetings in this format
- Aaron Finch will become Australia's seventh captain in the format, after Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Cameron White and George Bailey
- The two leading wicket takers of all time in T20 internationals are Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, but neither will be playing in this game
"With Ajmal gone out, things are different now and we have to really think hard as a bunch and not as one individual like Ajmal winning us games"
Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach
"You live and die by the sword. You make some outrageous moves and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't."
Australia's new captain Aaron Finch on his aggressive leadership approach
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale