Hot hosts have the edge

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Pakistan v Australia
Tuesday 4 April 16.30
TV: live on BT Sports

Pakistan primed

Pakistan came from behind to claim the ODI series 2-1 and they would expect to steal the one-game T20 series, too. It is a stronger suit than 50-overs.

As you would expect their line-up includes the top performers from the PSL. Babar Azam leads and his deputy is Shadab Khan, who won games all on his own for Islamabad United.

Khushdil Shah will be hoping to bring PSL form. He proved to be a crucial all-rounder for Multan Sultans. Team-mate Shahnawaz Dahani, for the second year running top wicket-taker, is dangerous.

Whether Pakistan go to the well again with Shaheen Shah Afridi remains to be seen. But he is the squad and if there were plans to rest him it probably would have been announced by now.

Possible XI: Babar, Rizwan, Fakhar, Haider, Shadab, Asif Ali, Khushdil, Hasan, Nawaz, Afridi, Dahani

Australia unravelling

Australia fought manfully in the ODIs but they were eventually undone by a lack of resources. The player drain proved too much.

It’s worth remembering that of the XI that beat Pakistan in the T20 World Cup semi-final late last year, only Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa remain.

And Finch is under pressure. With David Warner likely to waltz back in when he chooses, Travis Head, Ben McDermott and Josh Inglis are eyeing an opener slot. Inglis has been laid low with Covid and may well be recovered in time. If Inglis is fit, Marnus Labuschagne is likely to miss out. This isn’t the format for him.

Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Ellis maylead the bowling group which is reliant on Zampa’s mastery. Cameron Green and Marcus Stopinis could look to pinch two overs apiece.

Possible XI: Finch, Inglis, McDermott, Head, Stoinis, Carey, Green, Agar, Behrendorff, Ellis, Zampa

Pitch report

The Lahore surface, which hosted 19 games, was predictable in the PSL. The side batting first had an advantage. More than 170 was busted 11 times. And that led to a toss bias. Only five teams won chasing. The paucity of runs in second innings was borne out by the fact that more than 160 was busted by both only eight times. On that number we’d wish for ‘no’ on both to bust 160 which is priced at 4/7 with Sportsbook.

If Pakistan bat first we’re confident that the runs will flow. The batters are buzzing and they are right at home on the surface having enjoyed its easy nature in the ODIs, record chases and all. A runs par line in the high 160s or low 170s looks a buy.

Back Pakistan batting first

Pakistan are 1.855/6 with Australia 2.166/5. Considering the toss bias in-play we could make a case for the Aussies. But we don’t want to.

The strategy is simple. Cross everything that Pakistan bat first and then bet them when they choose to bat first. We don’t expect the match odds to change post flip.

This is a hotch-potch Aussie side, shorn of their best players. They have batters in likely unfamiliar roles and others, like Cameroon Green (talented though he is) finding his way in the international format. Pakistan are hardened and on the up. (0.5pts) Bet the match odds markets here

Tops value

Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman are likely to be all the rage on the tops markets for this one. Babar and Rizwan have had a ding-dong battle over the last few years on the top Pakistan battle and they go head-to-head again for punters’ support.

Babar is boosted to 11/4 with Sportsbook while Rizwan is 13/5. Fakhar is 7/2. Each will have appeal on the top match bat and man of the match market. For the former Babar is 4/1, Rizwan 5s and Fakhar 7s. For the latter it’s 6s, 7s and 9s. (0.5pts) Bet the Sportsbook markets here

Dahani is overrated for top Pakistan bowler at 9/2 by the way. If he is given his head he should bowl at the death and can pick up cheap wickets.

Australia’s top-bat market has interest in case Stoinis and Alex Carey at 6/1 and 11/1 respectively reprise opening-bat roles from franchise cricket.