Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Azhar Ali to return in must-win game for Pakistan

Match facts

January 22, 2017
Start time 1420 local (0320 GMT)

Big picture

On a weekend when Cricket Australia are toasting the members of Allan Border's 1987 World Cup winning squad, their cricketing descendants can complete a somewhat more modest achievement by sealing the ODI series against Pakistan. Resolve to get the job done was written all over the captain Steven Smith's hundred to lead a sturdy chase in Perth, and the hosts will be looking for a similarly solid batting display after the malfunctions of the first two games.

To that end both David Warner and Usman Khawaja will be eager for the runs that have eluded them so far, with Travis Head another man eager to go on from the starts he has made in each match. Adam Zampa, meanwhile, will be eagerly awaiting an opportunity to play, having so far been left running the drinks as allrounders have been preferred to his nifty leg spin.

Pakistan are in need of better displays in the field, as it is now patently clear their batsmen struggle to post the sorts of totals now commonly seen among the world's more successful limited-overs sides. But there will be hope for their returning captain Azhar Ali that the SCG's pitch can provide the conditions necessary for his spinners to replicate their work at the MCG, with plenty of help from Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan.

Thirty years ago, Australia pushed past Pakistan on their home turf in Lahore to reach the tournament decider; Smith's collective will want to ensure the final match of this series, in Adelaide on Australia Day, is anything but.

Form guide

Australia: WLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Pakistan: LWLWW

In the spotlight

For all his contribution to Smith's decision to don a headband at the WACA, Adam Zampa would sooner be conspicuous for his bowling. Of the six ODIs Austraia have played at home this season, Zampa has appeared in only one - against New Zealand at the SCG. Based on that evidence, Sunday appears his best chance to return and demonstrate once more why he should be played more often. However, if he isn't picked, Zampa will have reason to question the value of being in the squad at all - headbands aside.

Scores of 18, 29 and 50 represent a promising upward trend for Sharjeel Khan, who has plenty of power and style at the top of the order for Pakistan. An overall average of 28.65 but a top score of 152 suggests he is yet to make the most of his talents, and he will be keen to go to the next step in Sydney, the venue where he made his Test debut at the start of the year.

Team news

Mitchell Starc is back in Australia's squad for the SCG, while Adam Zampa will also be pushing for inclusion for the first time in the series.

Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Peter Handscomb, 5 Travis Head, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Adam Zampa.

Pakistan were led by Mohammad Hafeez at the MCG and the WACA, but Azhar Ali has recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in Brisbane and will lead the side in Sydney. Azhar is likely to replace Asad Shafiq, who made only 13 and 5 in the second and third ODIs.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Azhar Ali (capt), 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Hasan Ali.

Pitch and conditions

The SCG is towards the back end of its busiest month of the season, so the surface may be a little on the tired side. Sydney's weather forecast is for fine, warm conditions.

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan have beaten Australia four times in ODIs at the SCG, but the hosts have been victorious on each of the past five occasions

  • Steven Smith needs 31 runs to surpass Australia's coach Darren Lehmann on the list of Australian ODI run-makers, having played 93 matches to Lehmann's 117

Pakistan fall behind


Pakistan's scoring rate in overs 21 to 30. They had scored at 6.9 runs an over in the first-20 overs.

Warner's fifth


Centuries by David Warner in ODIs this season in just 13 inns. Equals Matthew Hayden's record for most hundreds by an Australia batsman in any season.

Pak rein in Warner


Balls it took David Warner to get his fifty (6 fours, 1 six) in this innings. He scored only 20 runs (1 four) off his next 35 balls.

So close, yet


Century opening stands for AUS in their last 17 ODI innings at the SCG. The last one came against Pakistan, in 2010.