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Australia tour of the UAE

‘Still positives for Pakistan despite series loss’ – Azhar Mahmood

Pakistan’s bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has insisted there are positives for his side despite their series loss to Australia in the UAE.

Pakistan lost by 80 runs in the third ODI at Abu Dhabi, giving the visitors an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

Despite taking only eight wickets across three matches, Mahmood said there have been positives for Pakistan as they continue to experiment different combinations ahead of the World Cup.

“There have been positives like Usman (Shinwari), who bowled well on Wednesday,” said Azhar of the left-arm quick who breached Usman Khawaja’s defences in his first over.

“Junaid has come back well, young Hasnain bowled well. We have a few positives in batting with a couple of centuries in Sharjah. But, in Wednesday’s match, we just did not click.”

Pakistan have rested six players including regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for the Australia series to provide an opportunity to other leading performers to stake a claim.

“We are trying different combinations keeping the World Cup in mind,” said Azhar.

He added: “If we play only our main strength and then someone gets injured, we won’t have any options left. This series is our best chance to test the bench strength.”

Mahmood also hailed his Surrey team-mate, Aaron Finch, who has found form ahead of the World Cup with scores of 116, 153* and 90 in the three ODIs so far.

"I have played with him in Surrey, so I know when he is on song, he is difficult to stop. He is having the purple patch of his life. He knows when to attack and when to defend. He is a class player," he said.

The fourth ODI will be played on March 29 in Dubai.