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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Australia prepared for 'great contest' against Pakistan in T20 series

Tourists aiming to bounce back from Test series defeat when the three-match T20 series begins in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday

Australia captain Aaron Finch at the crease against the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Australia captain Aaron Finch at the crease against the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Australia captain Aaron Finch has said his side is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 side as Pakistan aim to build on their success from the Test series.

Hosts Pakistan welcome Australia to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for the first of three T20 matches, with the other two games in the series to take place in Dubai on Friday and Sunday.

Australia prepared for the series with a clinical seven-wicket win over the UAE national team on Monday, but Finch has urged his team to step up another gear when they face Pakistan at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

“Pakistan are world No 1 at the moment and they are world No 1 for a reason,” the Australian captain said at the pre-match conference on Tuesday.

“They played some great cricket in the last two years in this format so I think it will be a great contest. I think anytime you play anyone in a different country is massively important and everyone wants to win.”

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Read more:

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Australia rested batsman Mitchell Marsh and left arm paceman Mitchell Starc against the UAE, but the experienced pair could be named in the team to face Pakistan.

“That hasn’t been discussed yet,” Finch said when asked if Australia would name the same team as the one that beat the UAE. “The coaches and we will talk about that more over the next hour or so before training starts.

“Obviously, Mitch Starc and Mitch Marsh missed the game after being involved in the Test series. I think everyone is good as what we need them to be and if selected, I’m sure they will give do a great job.”

Chris Lynn is returning to the T20 side and Finch said the batsman’s return is welcome after a spell out with injury.

“He feels he is feeling great at the moment and it’s great to have him back,” Finch said. “We have Ben McDermott who made his debut [on Monday] and played really well towards the end of the innings. I think when you have new guys coming in, it’s really exciting and particularly on debut.”

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Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed wants his team to replicate their Test success while maintaining their No 1 status in the T20 format. After being held to a frustrating draw in the opening Test in Dubai – thanks largely to a heroic innings by Australia batsman Usman Khawaja – Pakistan blew away the tourists in Abu Dhabi to clinch the series.

“This series is very important for us and you know we are playing against Australia,” Sarfraz said.

“They have always been a strong outfit in T20 and we will try our level best to play good cricket.

“We have been giving good performances in the last one year in this format and we will try to play well to keep our No 1 ranking intact.”

Like Australia, Pakistan have their T20 specialists coming in for the game but Shoaib Malik, who decided to spend time with his wife Sania Mirza as they expect their first baby, will not be available for the opening game.

Pakistan will play six T20s in a row, the three against Australia followed by three against New Zealand.