Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and his Australian counterpart Aaron Finch pose with the trophy in Sharjah on Thursday. Supplied photo
Sharjah: A new-look but confident Pakistan take on a buoyant Australia in the opener of the five-match one day international (ODI) series in Sharjah on Friday.
Pakistan stand-in captain Shoaib Malik exuded confidence against a full-strength Australian team, who are coming into the series on the back of a well-deserved victory against the mighty Indians.
Australia came from behind to beat India 3-2 in the recently-concluded ODI series in India whereas Pakistan will be without their six key players, who have been rested after an exhausting season.
“We are expecting a tough series. They are coming after beating India, so their morale must be very high. But we have some advantages playing here as we have played a lot of cricket here,” said Shoaib.
“The Australians are more experienced but we have the strength to take them on. My players are highly talented and confident guys.”
Pakistan have surprisingly included seven new faces for the series, which is also billed as a prelude to the World Cup to be held in England from May 30, 2019.
After this series, Pakistan will play a six-match series in England before the showpiece event.
However, Shoaib defended the decision, saying: “They have been playing continuously for around six months since the Asia Cup. They played in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and PSL. They have gone back to meet their families after six months.
“I think they need rest and moreover we also play our home series in the UAE away from home,” he added.
He was full of praise for pacer Hasnain, who left an indelible impression in the fourth edition of PSL.
“Bowling at 145km/hr is a big advantage for any one. He is a very talented bowler and it is a very good sign for Pakistan cricket.
“Few years back we could not even imagine that, but in the last two seasons, PSL has given us some very talented and genuine fast bowlers,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Australian captain Aaron Finch said he is wary of Pakistan but they are looking to maintain winning momentum after beating India.
“Pakistan are playing in this condition for a long time but coming off a good tour from India is really crucial. We managed to play some good cricket there and we want to carry the same momentum into the series.
Commenting on the turf he said: “May be the wicket is not that dry in Sharjah but we know sub-continent pitches always have similar bounce and Pakistan have a lot experience in these conditions.”
Finch also ruled out an easy series against an inexperienced Pakistan team, who have rested all their fron-tline players, including captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
“No I don’t think it is going to be a cakewalk. Despite having quite a few new faces they still have a lot of experience. They are still a very good team and you cannot take them light in any format of the game.
He also played down the question as how the return of banned former captain Steve Smith and David Warner will affect the winning combination. “It is important for every one to make sure that we are improving. When David and Steve come back it is important that everyone fits in well and we will stick to what ever is the best combination for the team.”