Australian captain Aaron Finch is wary of Pakistan’s bowling attack ahead of the five-match ODI series but he insisted that he won’t be losing sleep over a potential rematch with Australia’s tormentor from last year’s Test series in the UAE, record-breaking quick Mohammad Abbas.
Abbas preyed on Australian batsmen with relentless accuracy and subtle movement during Pakistan’s 1-0 Test series victory in October is in the frame to make his one-day international debut in the upcoming five-match series.
Abbas took 17 wickets in two Tests as he peaked with an historically-great bowling average of 15.64 after 10 Tests at the conclusion of that campaign.
The right-armer could get his chance against Australia after Pakistan picked him in a depleted 16-man squad, though he faces stiff competition from the Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari and teen prodigy Mohammad Hasnain.
If extending Finch’s lean trot with the bat, which admittedly showed signs of ending when the opener pumped 93 against India in Ranchi two weeks ago, is a priority for Pakistan, they may well be tempted to blood Abbas.
Finch fell three times to the metronomic quick in his debut Test series, while fellow ODI squad members Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh (twice) both fell victim to Abbas.
In an interview with Cricket Australia, Finch pointed out the change in format would provide a fresh challenge for the 29-year-old former welder.
“He had some great success with the red ball in the Test matches against us,” said Finch. “He bowled very consistently, just moved the ball enough each way.
“But I think it’ll be totally different conditions, different format. Your mindset is definitely a bit different as a batter in one-day cricket.
“That’ll be a good challenge again though, there are a few guys in our side who he did have some success against. So it’s about coming up with a plan for him.”
Finch is quietly confident a return to the kind of one-day form fans have come to expect from him aren’t far off, noting that he also made an important contribution to an 83-run opening partnership with Khawaja in the second ODI in Nagpur.
The right-hander has copped his share of good deliveries across both Test and ODI formats, most notably a handful of balls that have shaped into him and threatened his stumps from the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Japsrit Bumrah.
The type of ball Abbas has used to trouble some of the world’s best.
“I think if you see some replays, you’d suggest so,” Finch said when asked about if he feels vulnerable against bowlers like Abbas.
“But I’ve been working hard on that. I feel like I’ve made some really good progress in the last couple of weeks, just tinkering with a few things.
“You’re going to face a lot of guys moving the ball both ways, so it’s just going to be important to stick to my game plan.”
Despite missing the likes of Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan, Finch is also wary of Pakistan’s other bowling threats.
Leggie Yasir Shah has had success against Australia in Test cricket, Shinwari impressed in his maiden KFC BBL stint with champions Melbourne Renegades this summer while Hasnain was this week flagged by former Australia allrounder Shane Watson as the quickest teenager he’s ever seen.
“They’ve still got a lot of quality players and you can’t just afford to focus on one player,” said Finch.
“It’s a bit like India – if you put too much focus on Virat Kohli you then forget about Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and these guys.
“So it’s important you put as much time and effort into every player and make sure your plans are as solid as they can be.”