Smith to the fore
Australia, as they had strongly hinted at in the first, washout, T20 at the SCG, made light work of Pakistan in game two in Canberra. They will expect to have little truck with the tourists as they head west.
If the result of the match, and the easy seven-wicket margin of victory, was not a surprise, the architect may have been. Steve Smith produced a superb innings of 80 from 51 balls with shots all round the wicket. It was only the fourth time he had top scored in a 35-game career.
Smith may well have been stung by suggestions he should not be in the team. It would be entirely typical of him to transform into one of the best T20 strikers in the world given his natural eye and ability to play unorthodox shots.
Pat Cummins, the Aussie quick, will not play in this one with the hosts already turning one eye to the first Test of the summer against the same opposition. Sean Abbott, of Sydney Sixers, will play his first match for five years.
Pakistan learn new trick
Despite defeat, there were some crumbs of consolation for Pakistan in defeat in the capital. Often hamstrung by a lack of late-order power hitting, they will have been cheered by Iftikhar Ahmed’s ball striking.
Iftikhar kept the contest alive as it looked like fizzling out when Babar Azam, who notched another fifty, was fifth out and run out and by David Warner off the last ball of the 16th over with the score on 105. A measly 130-odd looked Pakistan’s best hope given their characteristic. But Iftikhar found his range and ended up with 62 from 34 including three sixes as Pakistan took 45 off the last four overs.
The key to Pakistan success in the series, almost every expert has said, would be getting Warner cheaply. They did it (sort of). When he went for 20, Pakistan had hope but Smith extinguished that pretty quickly.
In Perth, they may opt to unleash the rapid Muhammad Hasanain with Mohammad Irfan or Wahab Riaz surplus to requirements.
Pakistan have to defend
For a contest, punters might hope that the wicket is rapid in the style of the old WACA and Pakistan’s pace aces can do some damage. But it’s a one-eyed strategy.
If the Pakistan pacers can make it leap and bounce, what will the Aussies do? And at least the home batsmen are used to hard and fast wickets. Pakistan are not.
Australia have shortened to 1.29 and Pakistan are 4.40. For game two, we had a wager on the tourists, only if they batted first at 4.20. The price held with the market unbothered by Pakistan’s excellent record defending. It remains their best – probably only – chance of winning. If the flip goes their way, we will hope for a trade from 4.40 for a couple of points in our favour.
Bash form pointers
Warner is 9/4 jolly for top Australia bat with Sportsbook followed by Aaron Finch at 11/4. Smith is 7/2. Ashton Turner is 17/2 on his home ground. He hit 69 from 42 to top on his last outing at the ground for Perth Scorchers. Ben McDermott, at 11/2, also has good memories of the place with 67 from 30 for the Hurricanes in 2018.
There is nothing wrong with the Babar price at 17/10 given there’s no-one who can touch him in the top order and, seemingly, he’s only in danger from late, reckless hitting.
On the top Aussie bowler market, Mitchell Starc should see plenty of business at 11/4 given 3/1 second favourite Cummins is definitely sitting this one out.
Where to watch/Live streaming
TV channels: Star Sports, Sky Sports, SuperSport, Geo Super, Willow TV, Fox Sports, Channel 9, Lemar TV, Flow TV, BeIN Sport
Live streaming: Hotstar, BeIN connect, Sky Go, Yupp TV, Flow Sports, Foxtel Go
This is only the fourth international to be played at Perth Stadium and the first T20. So we have to look at the domestic scorecards for a hint of what could play out.
The scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent) in the Big Bash since the ground’s inception in February 2018 read: 182-1/157-1/181-2/177-2/177-2/135-2/88-1/210-1/. Those are some healthy batting scores and it might not be wise to reckon this will be low scoring. If Australia bat first, consider decent prices of 180 or 190 or more from 2.60 to 3.00 respectively
Will win the Toss
Will win the Match