Australia v Pakistan: Iftikhar Ahmed's power, Mitchell Starc's swing and other talking points from T20 series

Aussies eased to series win over top-ranked team after visitors were outplayed with bat and ball

Iftikhar Ahmed of Pakistan bats during their T20 cricket match against Australia in Perth, Australia, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Richard Wainwright/AAP Image via AP)
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Pakistan are the top-ranked T20 team in the world but you wouldn’t have said that after watching them in the three-match T20 series in Australia which the hosts won comfortably.

Pakistan were outplayed in all departments of the game and even looked short on ability in some areas. With this being the T20 World Cup season, it wasn’t a great way for Babar Azam to begin life as T20 captain.

While they did hold on to their No 1 ranking by just one point, Pakistan know they did not put up much of a fight. The Aussies, meanwhile, were in cruise control and only had to operate at around 80-85 per cent capacity as they eased to a 2-0 series win.

Here we take a look at things learnt from the three-match series.

Babar, Iftikhar and not much else

Pakistan’s batting in white-ball cricket now revolves around Babar. Luckily for them, captaincy hasn’t affected Babar’s batting. But the rest of the line-up, apart from Iftikhar Ahmed, does not inspire any sort of confidence.

Babar hit two fifties while Iftikhar scored a fifty and a 45, but that was about it as far as Pakistan’s batting was concerned in the series. In fact, Iftikhar was the only Pakistan batsman who looked capable of hitting sixes regularly on the big Australian grounds.

The continued failure of opener Fakhar Zaman and the ineffectiveness of power hitter Asif Ali were the biggest disappointments for the visitors.

Starc is back

When left-arm quick Mitchell Starc gets going, there is very little that batsmen can do. Starc, with a slightly remodeled action, was back to swinging the ball late at high pace and the visiting batsmen did not know how to handle him.

The left-arm quick has picked up two wickets in four out of five T20s this season. Starc was particularly lethal on a green surface at Perth in the third T20, getting Babar lbw and then castling Mohammed Rizwan with late in-dippers. Who needs clever variations when you can bend it like Starc?

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 08: David Warner and Aaron Finch of Australia celebrate winning the game and the series during game three of the International Twenty20 series between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on November 08, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
David Warner, left, and Aaron Finch have been in god form at the top of the order. Getty Images

Aussies in top form

The hosts' top order of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith couldn’t wait to get on the field and feast on Pakistan’s largely ineffective pace attack.

Warner has a century, two fifties and a 48 in his last six T20 outings — all unbeaten – while Finch has had just two failures in the same period. Smith has two fifties out of the three times he has been asked to bat.

Pakistan threw everything they had – including young quicks Mohammed Hasnain and Musa Khan – at the Aussies but they always had an answer.

Australia ended the year unbeaten in the T20 format i.e. seven wins from as many completed matches. Pakistan, on the other hand, have lost eight out of nine completed games in 2019.

The 2020 T20 World Cup is being held in Australia and the men in green and gold look like the early favourites.