Adelaide: The series is decided, and this Adelaide Oval one-day international thus becomes a low-pressure celebration for Steven Smith’s men on the national holiday – Australia Day. Bigger tasks lie ahead in the coming weeks, for eight members of this ODI squad are part of the group heading to India for a four-Test tour that starts in late February. But for now they will hope to finish off the home summer with another win, to take the series against Pakistan 4-1 after also sweeping them in the Test series. True, it is not Australia’s last home match of the summer – three T20s against Sri Lanka will be held in mid-February – but it is the last featuring anything like a full-strength XI. Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc are just a few of the men who would normally be certain starters in the T20 side, but who will instead be in India ahead of the Tests.
Pakistan, meanwhile, have little to play for except pride. Having lost the Tests 0-3, and now the one-day series – albeit they won the second match in Melbourne – they will want to head home with a consolation victory to make the series score look a little closer. But to do so they will need not only bigger scores from their batsmen, but a vastly improved fielding effort. Their catalogue of fumbles, dropped catches and overthrows in the fourth match in Sydney would have been comedic had it not cost them the series. It means plenty of work for the fielding coach Steve Rixon ahead of Pakistan’s next international series, in March-April against West Indies.
Khawaja is the one member of Australia’s top order who has failed to manage a half-century in this series, and he will be keen for a big score in Adelaide to secure his position at the top of the one-day order. Khawaja is heading to Dubai early for Australia’s training camp ahead of the Test tour of India, and he is not therefore part of the Chappell-Hadlee squad heading to New Zealand for next week’s series. That means Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh will have the chance to make their cases for a permanent place at the top of the ODI order in Khawaja’s absence.
Sharjeel Khan’s scores have been building throughout this series: 18, 29, 50, 74. And he scores at such a rate that if he maintains his momentum through a long innings, it could be enough to set Pakistan on the path to victory. In Sydney, he smashed his 74 off 47 deliveries, but could not maintain it sufficiently to turn it into a big hundred as David Warner had for Australia earlier in the day.
And while Sharjeel’s batting can turn a match, his fielding had an unfortunately high impact at the SCG, where he dropped two important catches. Agencies
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