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Misfiring Pakistan vie for series parity in last chance against buoyant Australia
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Misfiring Pakistan vie for series parity in last chance against buoyant Australia

Pakistan have been completely at the mercy of lopsided contests in the previous two games against the dominant Australia side.

Having been saved by rain in the abandoned game at Sydney, Pakistan were not lucky the second time around as Babar Azam faced the first defeat of his captaincy tenure.

The visitors' slide into disarray appears ominous as their abysmal performances in the format weakens their hold on the No. 1 spot in the ICC rankings.

Barring Babar's successive half-centuries, Pakistan's batting has been short of the requisite vigour to excel in pace-friendly conditions.

Iftikhar Ahmed's rescue act in Canberra briefly countered the hosts' formidable bowling line-up but the continued failures of Fakhar Zaman and Asif Ali might trigger some changes from the team management.

Also Read: 'We were short by 10-15 runs' - Iftikhar Ahmed

Meanwhile, Pakistan's bowling attack has lacked the incision and quality to stem Australia's charge as the presence of three left-arm pacemen in the playing XI perhaps affords it a one-dimensional outlook.

The three debutants in the squad - Khushdil Shah, Usman Qadir and Musa Khan - still remain untested, bolstering the narrative surrounding head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq's supposed reluctance to disturb the status quo.

Australia's only concern would be Kane Richardson's inability to contain runs in the slog overs as he was subject to sturdy blows from the bat of Iftikhar in the second T20I.

The decision to rest Pat Cummins ahead of the busy Test summer means Billy Stanlake or Sean Abbott would be in contention to fill in the vacant spot for the match at the Perth Stadium.

Steve Smith's inventive strokeplay en route an imperious 80 not out amidst Australia's seven-wicket win mends a suspected loophole after Glenn Maxwell opted for an indefinite break owing to mental health issues.

Iftikhar in line for promotion up the batting order?

Iftikhar finally announced himself with a rapid 34-ball 62 on Tuesday, embellishing his terrific knock with three maximums and five boundaries.

Pakistan's long-running problem regarding the absence of a genuine power-hitter in the side was diminished to an extent with the 29-year-old clearing his front leg to sweetly time his slogs.

 Iftikhar raises his bat after making his maiden fifty ©Getty Images

Iftikhar raises his bat after making his maiden fifty ©Getty Images

Iftikhar's exquisite batting assault and his white-ball record this year while donning national colours have prompted calls for him to be elevated up the batting order to experience greater levels of success.

He came out to bat four down in the last game, thus logic would seem to dictate Iftikhar requires a promotion of one or two spots in the next encounter.

Ashton Agar's overlooked heroics

Australia generally bank on their quicks to deliver the goods especially when they play at home but the rise of spin twins Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar contradicts the trend.

Agar has snaffled six wickets across five T20Is this season and his economy rate has not strayed off to the expensive side despite no obvious bag of tricks up his sleeve.

The left-arm spinner has been able to smartly employ subtle variations in pace and length to curb opponents' scoring adding a distinctive component to Australia's bowling.

Squads

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Imam-ul-Haq, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa, D'Arcy Short, Sean Abbott

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