The first T20I between Australia and Pakistan will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday, 3 November 2019.
The two teams have met each other on 20 occasions in T20Is, with Pakistan winning 13 of those games. In fact, Pakistan’s superiority is even greater in recent matches, having won each of their last five T20Is against the Aussies. The two teams have played just one T20I against each other Down Under, a game which the hosts won by two runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground back in 2010.
Ground Detail and Team Combination
Since the start of 2018, the SCG hasn’t overly favoured batting or bowling. The average runs per wicket (24.8), balls per wicket (19.4), run rate (7.7) and balls per boundary (6.8) all come out to be moderate when you compare it to other Australian grounds during the aforementioned time period in T20 cricket.
So going by recent stats at the stadium, we can expect an even battle between bat and ball in this match. Hence, it’ll be a good idea to go with a well-balanced team without focusing too much on having a batting-heavy or bowling-heavy side.
While spinners have been more economical in T20Is here since January 2018, pacers have taken wickets at a better rate. Fast bowlers have enjoyed a strike rate of 18.3 while the same number for spinners is 25.9.
Interestingly, left-arm bowlers have performed better than their right-arm counterparts at the SCG during the aforementioned period. Left-arm pacers have taken a wicket every 16.6 deliveries, the best strike rate among all bowling types, with left-arm orthodox spinners just behind with a strike rate of 18.4. In fact, in the previous T20 game played at this ground, it was India’s left-arm orthodox spinner Krunal Pandya who was named the Player of the Match after he took four wickets.
The two teams have good left-arm bowling options which include heavyweights like Mitchell Starc and Mohammad Amir. Both bowlers, if they play, are expected to bowl during the death overs which gives them more chances of picking wickets.
David Warner might have had a torrid time during his return to Test cricket during the Ashes, but in the shorter formats of the game, he has been in terrific form this calendar form. In addition to a brilliant 50-over World Cup campaign with the bat, he has been fantastic in T20 cricket. In 2019, he has scored over 1000 runs in just over 20 innings at an average of 70.8 and a strike rate of 141.8 in T20 matches. Just last week, he slammed a splendid century against Sri Lanka which was followed up with scores of 60 not out and 57 not out. He enjoys batting at home whatever the format maybe and in T20Is, he averages 43.6 at a strike rate of 149.3 Down Under.
Pakistan’s newly appointed T20I captain Babar Azam has been the most prolific run-scorer in the format at the international level since his debut. Since the 2016 World T20, no other batsman has scored more than Babar’s tally of 1290 runs. Despite the recent series defeat against Sri Lanka at home, Pakistan continue to be the number one ranked team in T20Is and one of the key reasons has been Babar’s consistency at the top of the order. Since 2018, he has scored 822 runs at an average of 51.4, scoring 40+ in 11 out of 19 innings. He didn’t have a great series against Sri Lanka and will be keen to show his worth in his first match as Pakistan’s skipper.
Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa was excellent against Sri Lanka. In the three matches against the Lankans, he picked five wickets while conceding just 64 runs from a combined 12 overs. Being economical has been one of Zampa’s biggest strengths and a career T20I economy rate of 5.9 is further proof of that. He is also a wicket-taking bowler who has taken 28 scalps in 24 innings in T20Is, taking a wicket every 18.4 deliveries. In fact, in the last eight T20 internationals he has bowled in, he has gone wicket-less just twice.
As mentioned above, left-arm orthodox spinners have enjoyed success at the SCG over the last two years and hence, Imad Wasim could prove to be a valuable addition to your team. In 38 T20I matches, he has taken 41 wickets at a strike rate of 20.7 which shows that he can be relied upon to take at least one wicket in most matches. While bowling has been his main strength in this format at the international level, he is also capable of making handy contributions with the bat which we got to see during his 29-ball 47 against Sri Lanka in a T20I last month. He possesses a batting strike rate of just over 150 in T20Is.
There is a high chance of rain disrupting the match, with forecasts of thunderstorms in Sydney on Sunday afternoon.
Suggested Fantasy Team
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), David Warner (c), Babar Azam, Steve Smith, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Mohammad Amir, Adam Zampa, Shadab Khan.