Clarke wants to solve ODI away blues

Australia head into their one-day international series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates with captain Michael Clarke looking for his side to improve their consistency away from home.

Australia have had a mixed time of it on their travels in recent times, drawing 2-2 in the West Indies before losing 4-0 in England last month.

Now Clarke is looking for a better return in their three-match ODI series against Pakistan, which precedes two Twenty20 internationals against the same opponents ahead of next month’s ICC World T20 championship.

Clarke, whose team warmed up for Tuesday’s opening ODI in Sharjah with a 66-run over Afghanistan on Saturday, said: “That’s our goal as a team – to make sure we’re playing as well (as we are) at home, away.

“I think our cricket in general back in Australia has been a lot more consistent than away from Australia, so that’s certainly a goal of the Australian team to make sure we’re performing overseas.”

Like Australia, Pakistan have also had some mixed ODI results this year.

They also lost 4-0 to England in the UAE in February, then won the Asia Cup, but suffered a 3-1 series loss to Sri Lanka in June.

Clarke added: “Both teams are keen to get some consistency, I guess, back into the one-day game.

“I think Pakistan are a lot like Australia in the fact that they have a lot of talent – it’s just about performing consistently.”

With Australia’s indifferent form this year, they have slipped to fourth place in the ODI world rankings, behind leaders England, South Africa and India, but Clarke is confident they can work their way back up to the standings.

“All four teams are quite close as well so, if we can have some success on this tour, I think the rankings will change by the time we’re finished,” he said.

Pakistan, who have not had an ODI series win over Australia since 2002, have rested key paceman Umar Gul for the matches, and they are hoping the spin trio of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi can do much of the damage.

“Our spinners got some success here against Sri Lanka and England with Ajmal, being one of the best in the world, and Afridi, so we have got good spinners for the conditions and hopefully they do well again,” said vice-captain Hafeez on the website.

Hafeez also insists Pakistan are not dwelling on their poor record against the Australians over the past decade.

“We always believe in performing well in every series. The history is also on your mind but we are not bothered about it and start with an aim of doing well.”

The day-night ODI matches are beginning at 6pm local time to avoid the average temperatures of 41 degrees in the UAE, meaning a scheduled finish time well into the early hours of the morning.

Hafeez said of that: “We have to deal with that. As professionals, we are ready to play and although the timings are odd … we will manage once the series gets under way.”

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