Australia will be looking to finish its One-Day International series against Pakistan with yet another win as the teams lock horns in the fifth and final game at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday (January 26), which is also Australia’s national day.
Having taken an unassailable 3-1 lead after a massive 86-run victory in Sydney on Sunday, Australia will be keen not to let complacency trickle into the ranks. It might be a dead-rubber contest, but as Glenn Maxwell pointed out on the eve of the encounter, it will be a crucial platform for those looking to make a mark ahead of the side’s upcoming three-match ODI series in New Zealand and a four-Test tour of India next month.
“For a lot of people it might seem like a dead rubber, but there’s still a lot to play for, especially individually,” Maxwell told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s still a lot of Champions Trophy (scheduled to be played in June) places up for grabs which is in the distance, and there’s still a New Zealand series around the corner as well.
“I think it’s a really important game to not only make sure you’re winning as a team, you’re keeping that winning momentum because it’s sometimes an easy thing to lose. If you take the foot off the gas at any stage, it can be a long bumpy road back, so we’ll be keeping the foot on the gas and all guns blazing forward.”
It being a public holiday, a large crowd is expected to turn up at the Adelaide Oval, which has been reinstated as the venue for the once-traditional Australia Day ODI for the first time in three years.
“A lot of the Australia Days I remember growing up were pretty similar to Boxing Day (Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground) – it’s very iconic, you love sitting down on Australia Day with a barbie and watching Australia play one-day cricket,” said Maxwell. “And generally an entertaining game of one-day cricket.
“So that’s something that we’ll be hoping to provide, and having built up the whole series – getting better and better as the series has gone on – I think we’ll be looking forward to putting on a fully clinical performance throughout the whole game.”
Australia has lost just one one-dayer – a six-wicket defeat in the second ODI – since its 5-0 defeat at the hands of South Africa last year, but Maxwell insisted that the host needed to keep up the good work.
“We’ve shown glimpses with the bat, glimpses with the ball and glimpses in the field,” he pointed out. “But to put that perfect game together, which is what we’re always striving for in the one-day set-up, is what we’ll be aiming for tomorrow.”
Pakistan, meanwhile, will want a better all-round performance. Dropped catches have hurt the team and that will be something it will look to address. In the last match in Sydney, Sharjeel Khan smashed 74 off 47 deliveries to be the pick of the batsmen. The visiting side will want more of that kind of aggression and hope the top and middle-order click in tandem.
The team lost the Test series 3-0, and has conceded the ODI series as well, despite the win in the second match. It will be keen for a consolation win to end the tour on a better note.
The curator is likely to lay out a traditional batting-friendly track in Adelaide, and weather-wise, it is expected to a be a bright, sunny day, with the temperature ranging between 22 and 28°C during the contest.
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Billy Stanlake.
Pakistan (from): Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Rahat Ali, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz.