Finch’s Australia keep defying expectations as World Cup nears

Australia’s win on Friday not only provided a further indicator that the team of Aaron Finch and Justin Langer is now humming nicely as the World Cup draws closer, but also overturned a few preconceptions about the series. A comfortable chase of 281, the second-highest ever in Sharjah, despite the surfeit of ODI matches played there over the years, indicated that high scoring and aggressive batsmanship will be required on surfaces that offer little more than a hint of slow spin and little to nothing for the pacemen.
Equally, the expectations of the Australians that Pakistan would seek to take down the spin of Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon was somewhat confounded by the fact that this increasingly confident duo were able to dictate economical terms throughout large chunks of the Pakistan innings. Creating and sustaining tempo will be critical to this series, both with the bat and in the field. Australia were energy personified in the field – if not completely spotless – while Zampa and Lyon were able to control the pace of Pakistan’s scoring in such a way that Finch never looked too perturbed by the the run rate. His confidence was evident in the chase, where once again Australia controlled the tempo of the innings expertly, scoring regular boundaries without ever looking like they were trying too hard to force things.
For Pakistan, there will be concerns that despite a serviceable-enough batting performance, the bowlers lacked the incisiveness to defend it while the fielding display bordered at times on the listless. Mohammad Amir was particularly expensive, while Mohammad Abbas was unable to exert quite the same measure of control he enjoyed over Finch and the Australians during the October Test series in the UAE. More, too, will be expected of Yasir Shah, who played only a brief role in the 2015 World Cup, and with more days like game one, he might be in danger of a similar fringe post in 2019.