Australia are a threat, says Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik

Australia start another five-match series, against Pakistan in Sharjah on Friday night, and Malik is in no doubt about the threat posed by the opposition.

“Even though Australia did not win any series until [India], I considered them one of the strongest teams at any big event,” Malik told reporters.

Five months ago, Malik was part of the Pakistan outfit that crushed Australia 3-0 in a Twenty20 series in the UAE.

Australia’s improvement in white-ball cricket since those defeats has been immense.

“When your two key players [Steve Smith and David Warner] are not in the side, any team can struggle,” Malik said.


“I am sure they sat down and talked about everything.

“The series they played against India in India, it was a very big series for them. That series itself tells that things are much better in the dressing room … their morale is high.

“If you look at what the Australian team was a couple of years ago, you could see the same aggression and the same amount of confidence.”

Finch highlighted the even spread of contributors in India when asked about his team’s turnaround.

“If you get an opportunity to win a game, make sure you’re the guy who puts your hand up and does that. Don’t leave it to other people,” Finch said.

“That might have been something – we expected somebody else to do the job for us then.”

Malik is leading Pakistan in the absence of Sarfraz Ahmed, who is one of six stars to have been rested from the series.

“I’m not one who looks for excuses. We have enough strength in our dressing room to take on Australia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Glenn Maxwell has recovered from the flu but questions remain as to whether Pat Cummins will be rested from the first match.

Maxwell was too sick to train on Wednesday, when he was told to skip the tourists’ main session for the week.

The all-rounder was in better spirits on Thursday, when he had a fluent hit in the Sharjah nets on match eve.

Nathan Lyon, who failed to train on Tuesday because of the same bug, is also in doubt.

Cummins has been on restricted duties in recent days. The paceman is fully expected to be rested at some point in the five-match series against Pakistan, which spans just 10 days.

“Greg [Chappell] has just got here, I haven’t spoken to him yet,” Finch said, when asked if Cummins would be rested.


“He [Cummins] has shown over the last couple of years how durable he’s become.

“He probably had a lot of doubts in his own mind about how long he could push through before he gets a niggle again.

“His skills are extraordinary … in all forms of cricket, he’s just getting the job done.”

Shaun Marsh, dropped for last week’s series decider against India, could be given a chance to shine in the first ODI against Pakistan.

The visitors are likely to retain two tweakers in their XI, with Lyon and Adam Zampa having bowled well during Australia’s series-clinching victory over India in Delhi.

“Subcontinent-type wickets are always quite similar to play on. While Pakistan have a lot of experience playing in these conditions in Sharjah, I think it [the recent tour of India] will help us a lot,” Finch said.


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