Pakistan v Australia 2nd ODI

Image courtesy of tribune.com.pk
Michael Clarke in action during his innings of 66 in the 1st ODI against Pakistan. Image courtesy of tribune.com.pk

Australia plays its 800th one-day international tonight when it comes up against Pakistan in the second match of their three-game series in Abu Dhabi tonight.  Michael Clarke’s men have the chance to wrap up the series, as well as posting a hat-trick of wins for the first time in 2012.  One of those victories was against Afghanistan in Sharjah a week ago, but given the team’s inconsistency across its first 24 games of the year, Clarke will take any opportunity to remain in the winner’s circle.

Despite playing a large number of games there in the past few years, Pakistan has been unable to make Abu Dhabi a home away from home, having won just nine of its 19 games in the UAE capital.  Since 2009, these teams have met eight times at neutral venues, with Australia winning five of those encounters.  In only one of those eight matches has the team batting first successfully defended its target.

Australia’s stand-in coach, Steve Rixon, has flagged the possibility wicket-keeper Matthew Wade may be moved down the order if his team fields first.  Wade smashed 75 when Australia batted first against Afghanistan, but laboured to 10 off 29 balls in Australia’s chase against Pakistan in game one, and appeared drained after 45 overs behind the stumps.  Michael Hussey is the most likely candidate to open the innings should Wade drop down the order.

Abu Dhabi has been a happy hunting ground for skipper Clarke .  In 2009 he made 66 and took 3-15 in the first game of the series before backing that up with 100* in the next match at the ground.  Clarke appears to enjoy batting at three in the order, too.  Since 2010 he has averaged 56 at first drop, compared to a career average of 45.

One man who isn’t so fond of the ground, or his opponents for that matter, is Mohammad Hafeez .  The Pakistan opener has passed 35 just once in six appearances at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, and averages a paltry 11.3 against Australia.  Pakistan will need more from its top order after Asad Shafiq , skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal provided three-quarters of the team’s runs off the bat in the opening match.

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