Pakistan vs Australia: Australia are currently seventh and Pakistan 10th, but both have played just three of their eight scheduled series. India have already qualified as hosts.
Australia’s T20 hero Mitchell Marsh has been ruled out with injury as they and Pakistan eye qualification for the 50-over World Cup when they start a three-match one-day international series in Lahore from Tuesday. The series is part of the 13-team ODI Super League in which every match carries 10 points, with the top seven qualifying automatically for the World Cup next year.
Australia are currently seventh and Pakistan 10th, but both have played just three of their eight scheduled series. India have already qualified as hosts.
Australia were already without key players David Warner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Steven Smith for various reasons and have been further hit by the loss of all-rounder Marsh, their hero when they won the T20 World Cup in November.
All five senior players were part of the team that won the three-match Test series 1-0 last week, on Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in 24 years.
Skipper Aaron Finch fears that the 30-year-old Marsh may miss the whole ODI series.
“Mitch injured his hip flex during fielding drills on Sunday,” Finch said on Monday.
“We have to wait and see, but I don’t think he will be available for the series based on how he was feeling yesterday.”
Finch hopes new players such as Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis and Ben McDermott will rise to the occasion despite their inexperience.
“At times that can be a real blessing because you have the ability for guys to just play freely and express themselves,” said Finch.
“It’s about trying to build the depth in the squad and experience in players,” he added.
Australia will also be without wicketkeeper and batsman Josh Inglis who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.
“Inglis will isolate for five days before returning to the squad,” said a Cricket Australia release.
Finch can take heart from the fact that Pakistan have not won an ODI series against them since 2002, with Australia winning eight of the 11 — the last seven in succession.
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman said his team was looking for maximum 30 points from the series.
“They are missing some big names so that will make a difference,” he said.
“But it’s an international team and we are not going to take them lightly because Australia is known for doing well in all situations and all circumstances.”
Fakhar vowed Pakistan will put the Test series loss behind them.
“Our captain has spoken that what has happened is beyond us… this is a new series so we will do our best to win it.”
The next two ODIs will be on Thursday and Saturday, also in Lahore.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Asif Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-Ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir
Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Adam Zampa
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Asif Yaqoob (PAK)
Tv umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)
Match referee: Muhammad Javed Malik (PAK)