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24-Oct-2018 04:39:00 GMT
Pak v Aus - 1st T20I, Abu Dhabi

Pakistan face Australia with T20 top ranking at stake

Abu Dhabi: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is confident his team can defend their world number one ranking in a stern challenge from Australia in a three-match Twenty20 series starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Sarfraz led Pakistan to a tri-series triumph by beating Australia in the final at Harare in July this year and needs to win at least one match to remain at the top of the rankings.

Pakistan will be without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who was with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza in India for the birth of their first child.

Australia, who beat Pakistan in the group match of the tri-series, need to win 3-0 if they want to jump from their current third position to the top.

Since Sarfraz took over captaincy, Pakistan have won 23 of the 27 matches they have played -- a momentum the skipper wants to maintain.

Stanlake took 4-8 in a lively spell in Australia's victory in the tri-series group game.

Australia will also have some fresh players after losing the two-match Test series 1-0 last week, also played in United Arab Emirates.

Their Twenty20 skipper Aaron Finch said his team was motivated enough to win the series.

Finch played down the bounty of getting to the top of the rankings in case they win all the matches.

Teams from:

Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (Capt. & wk), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Waqas Maqsood, Usman Khan, Sahibzada Farhan

Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Mitchell Marsh (vice-capt), Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

Pitch and conditions
Pitches in Abu Dhabi usually provide low-scoring games. With the games held at night, dew is expected to be an equal factor for both sides.

Stats and trivia
Pakistan have lost just four T20Is out of 27 since the World T20 in 2016.

Match facts
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Start time: 20:00 local (16:00 GMT)

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