Australia and Pakistan begin their preparations for the World T20 with their clash in the first T20I at Dubai tonight and you can join us at 2.00 am Australia time (September 6) for live score updates.
It’s a change in captains, change in personnel and a change in mind-set. That is what one can expect going into the T20I series between Pakistan and Australia beginning today at Dubai.
First the captains; Mohammad Hafeez takes over from Misbah ul Haq while Australia will be led by George Bailey, both of whom will captain their respective sides in the World T20 later this month.
Relatively inexperienced as skippers, it will be a test for both, thanks mainly but not restricted only to the fact that the conditions will remain as difficult to play cricket in.
The temperatures touched 40 degrees Celcius in the third ODI at Sharjah and the energy-sapping heat will give no respite at Dubai either.
Australia will welcome Shane Watson back, after missing him much at the top of the innings. Previous T20 captain Cameron White also gets a call after previous poor performances in this format had ensured an axe.
There are also returns for Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus and Brad Hogg, with Alister McDermott asked to stay back as cover.
Pakistan will welcome back Imran Nazir, who like Hogg, was a part of the Sri Lanka Premier League last month. There are also call-ups for Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul and Yasir Arafat, none of who played in the ODIs.
The last two of the aforementioned have shown excellent control in this format of the game and could fight for one pace bowling berth.
This leaves us with the bit around change in mind-set.
For one, T20 cricket will not allow the players too much thinking time, even lesser of it for comebacks. But what will accentuate that even further will be the weather, given that T20I cricket can sometimes get more frenetic than ODIs.
Secondly, both teams will also have an eye on the World T20 preparations.
Leading up to that tournament, Pakistan and Australia will look to experiment with their line-ups a tad. But the challenge for both teams will be to maintain that fine line between going for a win and getting their combinations in the built-up for the T20 World Cup.
Pakistan will hold the edge going into the game given how well they have performed in this format but expect Australia to fight as hard as they did in the ODIs.