On Sunday, Aaron Finch is set to make his debut at captain of the Australian national T20 side. In doing so he will become the seventh man to lead his country in the shortest format of the international game.
However, Finch is set to lead his side out for the one-off match without Pat Cummins, who despite being a member of the squad, will be in India with his IPL franchise, the Kolkata Knight Riders, for the final of the Champions League T20 tournament.
Things could have been worse for Finch, as he had three players still in the sub-continent prior to the CLT20 semi-finals. Apart from Cummins, Glenn Maxwell was with the Kings XI Punjab and Cameron Boyce remained with the Hobart Hurricanes. With Punjab and Hobart both losing in the last four, Maxwell and Boyce are now set to fly to the UAE to join up with the rest of the squad.
Cricket Australia (CA) had announced in September that any Australian player be required for the Champions League final would be deemed unavailable for the T20 international against Pakistan.
The effect of the statement by CA was to rank playing for Australia as a lower honour and priority than turning out for a domestic team. The question then, is whether this is as low as international cricket can sink?
Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi has problems of his own, as his third ranked team, prepares to “host” the fifth ranked Australians.
Afridi will not have his leading spinner Saeed Ajmal, currently ranked third by the ICC in their T20 bowling list. It is expected that the 22 year old left-arm spinner Raza Hasan will replace Ajmal for the one-off fixture.
Hassan has already appeared in seven T20 internationals, and performed well at the 2012 World Twenty20. But having injured a disc in his spine, he has not played at international level for two years.
Afridi and the experienced Mohammad Hafeez, ranked ninth and eighth respectively by the ICC, will provide the experience in the spin department, in the T20 and the three ODIs to follow.